Soccer's international governing body FIFA has long been accused of corruption. But, now a British investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 Russia and Qatar World Cup games reports that officials were bribed-with priceless art.
A parliamentary committee found that Russia gifted a Picasso painting to the president of the Union of European Football Associations and FIFA executive member Michel Platini in exchange for his support of its bid. Meanwhile, voting member Michel D'Hooghe received a landscape painting that he called "absolutely ugly."
The paintings were part of Russia's national art collection, pulled from vaults in St. Petersburg or from the Kremlin archives.
The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee said the information in the report comes from a"high-level intelligence gathering and and surveillance on the other countries bidding to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups."
Russia denied the claims and said that it has only ever "behaved professionally" in the bidding process. In aNovember report, FIFA cleared Russia and Qatar of corruption in the bidding process, then later announced a criminal complaint in Swiss court.
"...we are not in a position to comment on on-going proceedings nor on names and other information circulated in the media, particularly as we do not know against which individuals and for what reasons investigations are in process nor do we know the details of what is actually in the investigation reports," FIFA told CNN in a statement.
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