President of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Michel Platini has condemned a report , which claimed that Vladimir Putin gave him a Picasso painting in exchange for his vote in favor of hosting the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Platini said “I’d like to point out that the Sunday Timesallegations are totally fictitious and the newspaper themselves admit that they don’t have any proof to support this ridiculous rumour.” He said that his legal team were now handling the matter and that a defamation case was not out of the question.
The report was released on Sunday and claimed its information had come from members of the committee who had hoped to secure the 2018 World Cup for Britain. They say “intelligence was gathered from a network of British embassies and private intelligence firms staffed by former MI6 officers,” about the tactics used by the Russians in order to launch their successful bid.
Fellow FIFA committee member Michel D’Hooghe was also given a painting by an unknown artist. He has confirmed receipt of the artwork, but claims that it was worthless and that he did not vote for Russia to host the tournament.
The report claims that these gifts of artworks were part of a two-year-long campaign by Putin to lobby voting members ahead of the decision on the location of the 2018 World Cup. He is said to have conducted the outreach through deniable visits by oligarchs and former football officials.
An independent inquiry into the decisions to host the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 tournament in Qatar, found that neither state breached protocol. However, allegations of impropriety continue to emerge.