The bidding procedures of the 2018 and 2022 Football World Cups are embroiled in allegations of bribes revolving around expensive pieces of artworks.
A latest report from The Sunday Times claims that a painting made by one of the greatest painters of all times, Pablo Picasso, was gifted to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) president and FIFA executive member Michel Platini in exchange for his support for letting Russia win the bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, CNN reports.
The allegations have been levelled by England's 2018 World Cup bid committee, which according to the report, had gathered intelligence about the Russian bid "from a network of British embassies and private intelligence firms staffed by former MI6 officers" over a period of two years. The information was then conveyed in "a dossier published by parliament."
It was also revealed that another FIFA voting member, Michel D'Hooghe, from Belgium, was also one of the recipients of a landscape painting that he received in a package wrapped in brown paper by Viacheslav Koloskov, who is a former Russian executive committee member lobbying for Russia's bid to host the tournament.
But, D'Hooghe clarified that the painting that was given to him was, according to him, "absolutely ugly" and had little or no value. He added that he was not among the ones who voted for Russia.
The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) has published the details of the investigations that the newspaper had presented to a parliamentary committee.
The contents in the report are extremely damning for Russia's image. It states: "It reports how England's bid officials were warned that Vladimir Putin, then the Russian prime minister, had 'cranked up . . . the operation' months before the secret ballot and was alleged to have tasked a trusted cabal of oligarchs with doing 'deniable' deals to win the support of FIFA voters."
In view of the persistent tensions between Ukraine and Russia and Russia and the rest of the world, FIFA – the body that governs world football, is facing tremendous pressure from various corners to allow another nation to host the 2018 World Cup. However, head of FIFA Sepp Blatter has ignored such pressure while insisting that Russia's status as the host-nation is "irrevocable", The Daily Beast reports.
Meanwhile, Russian officials have categorically denied indulging in any corrupt practices to win the bid to host the tournament.