The world’s most popular sporting event has kicked up damaging allegations of corruption as countries bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, according to a new report.
A painting by Picasso was allegedly gifted to FIFA executive member and Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) president Michel Platini in return for his support for a successful Russian bid for the 2018 games.
According to the Sunday Times, Platini strongly denied the story while another FIFA voting member, Michel D’Hooghe, from Belgium, said he had received a painting from a Russian committee member but said the artwork was “absolutely ugly” and did not vote for Russia.
The Sunday Times sent its findings to the UK parliamentary committee, which is investigating why England failed to successfully bid for the 2018 games.
Russian president Vladimir Putin was also mentioned in the report as getting strongly behind the country’s bid in recent years and may have influenced the successful bid of Qatar for the 2022 games in exchanged for Russian votes.
The country strongly denied the claims in a statement to CNN.
“Russia 2018 categorically rejects all of the allegations made in the Sunday Times today as entirely unfounded speculation. These allegations are not new, but the evidence has only ever indicated that Russia 2018 behaved professionally and fairly throughout the bidding process.”