UEFA president Platini denies being offered Picasso painting as bribe

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

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.

Michel PlatiniMichel Platini

"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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