France’s Platini denies Picasso gift from Russia

Uefa president Michel Platini told AFP that rumours he was given a Picasso painting in return for voting for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup were "totally fictitious".

France's Platini denies Picasso gift from Russia
British newspaper the Sunday Times claims to have access to a database of allegations compiled by the failed English bid team for the 2018 World Cup. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

British newspaper the Sunday Times claims to have access to a database of allegations compiled by the failed English bid team for the 2018 World Cup.

The newspaper claimed on Sunday Platini was given a painting, believed to be a Picasso, as part of a bid to secure his vote.

"I'd like to point out that the Sunday Times allegations are totally fictitious and the newspaper themselves admit that they don't have any proof to support this ridiculous rumour," Platini told AFP.

"This affair is now in the hands of my legal advisers in case of any eventual defamation case."

The newspaper made a variety of other claims including that Russian president Vladimir Putin enlisted FIFA president Sepp Blatter to help lobby for votes and that Qatar used its influence in the natural gas industry to secure votes through bilateral trade deals.

Both Russia and Qatar, who won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, were cleared of any wrong-doing following an independent inquiry.

However investigator Michael Garcia, an American lawyer, contested FIFA's conclusion to his findings.

Both countries deny any wrongdoing.

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French football’s HQ raided as part of probe into Blatter

The headquarters of France's football chiefs was raided as part of the ongoing probe into corruption at FIFA and the criminal investigation targeting Sepp Blatter.

French football's HQ raided as part of probe into Blatter
Photo: AFP

French authorities have searched the Paris offices of the French Football Federation in connection with Switzerland's criminal investigation targeting former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the Swiss attorney general said Wednesday.

Documents in connection with Blatter's infamous 2.0 million Swiss franc ($2.0 million, 1.8 million euros) payment to the fallen UEFA president Michel Platini “were seized” in the search carried out on Tuesday, Switzerland's top prosecutor said in a statement.

The statement said it asked France for cooperation in the investigation on January 14th.

“Pursuant to that request… and in close coordination with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), the French Financial Prosecution Office proceeded yesterday to a search of the offices of the French Football Federation (FFF) in Paris,” the statement said.

It added that the search was “in connection with the criminal proceedings against Mr. Joseph Blatter.”

Switzerland opened an investigation against Blatter in September for alleged criminal mismanagement during his tenure as FIFA's president.

It also suspected Blatter of making a payment that was “disloyal” to FIFA.

That payment was the 2.0 million Swiss francs Blatter authorised to Platini in 2011, reportedly for consulting work the Frenchman performed a decade earlier.

Doubts surrounding that payment led FIFA's ethics judges to ban both Blatter and Platini from football for six years.

In the Swiss case, Platini has been questioned in a status that falls between a witness and an accused.

“Mr. Michel Platini's status in the proceedings has remained unchanged,” the OAG statement said.