Did Putin Exchange A Picasso For The 2018 World Cup?
In some total James Bond-type -ish, a British intelligence collection investigation -- led by "British embassies" and "private companies" -- into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids by Russia and Qatar, revealed both Russian President Vladimir Putin and a former executive Russian soccer committee member to have contributed priceless works of art in exchange for votes for both World Cups. The British newspaper the Sunday Times initially broke the story.
It gets worse -- Putin apparently worked on behalf of the Qataris in exchange for "a major bilateral trade deal for gas." He's accused of trading art for votes for gas for votes. Whoa.
Finally, some evidence that Sepp Blatter not only sounds like a international super criminal -- but is one. He's the soccer version of Blofeld. He throws shoes. Who throws a shoe?
[CNN] The previously unreported material contains a series of claims around the role allegedly played by Russian President Vladimir Putin in making sure his country would host football's premier competition, hard on the heels of winning the rights to stage the Sochi Winter Olympics earlier this year.
It claims that Putin was initially skeptical about Russia's bid but had later thrown his full weight behind the process. "He (Putin) took a personal interest in the running of the bid in mid-2010," the committee report reveals.
Under the heading, "Intelligence relating to Russia 2018" a series of allegations are revealed about Putin's role in brokering a major bilateral trade deal for gas with Qatar, the winners of the 2022 bid, in exchange for each others votes and the votes of others of their supporters.
The allegations also detail the plundering of Russia's national art collection, either from the vaults of the State Hermitage Museum in St.Petersburg or the Kremlin archives, as alleged kickbacks to [former French star and UEFA President Michel] Platini and D'Hooghe.
Just for some perspective on what this bribery scandal could involve, Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust sold for $106.5 million at auction in 2010.
Earlier this month, FIFA released a summarized/whitewashed version of their own ethics chairman Michael Garcia's investigation into possible improprieties regarding the procedures that led to the 2018 Russia World Cup and 2022 Qatar World Cup. Garcia is currently suing FIFA for misrepresenting his findings, which FIFA presented as an exoneration of their name. Judging by Garcia's response to FIFA executive chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert's summary of his own report, the next two World Cups have in no way been vindicated whatsoever.
“Today’s [report] contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations,” he said last month.
Platini has claimed this new report is bogus, as did Russia in a statement to CNN.
"Russia 2018 categorically rejects all of the allegations made in the Sunday Times today as entirely unfounded speculation."
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