The long embattled Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is taking another hit to their reputation as the revelations of a British report into the FIFA bidding process for the 2018 soccer World Cup was exposed in the Sunday Times. Painting FIFA in a rather unflattering light, the report alleges that Michel Platini, the executive member of FIFA, received a Picasso painting while another FIFA executive, Michel D’Hooghe, received a landscape painting from members of the committee behind Russia’s bid to host the soccer tournament.
As the British report elaborates, the works were allegedly taken from the Kremlin’s archives and the permanent collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. As those records are closed to the public there is no way to verify the reports findings, and Platini has publicly denied the report’s accusations. However, the report goes on to discuss Vladimir Putin’s active role in supporting the Russian bid, which was moved forward with the help of a huge gas deal with Qatar. Russia and Qatar have both denied persistent reports of wrongdoing in relations to the bid, and they were recently cleared by a hotly contested FIFA probe in which FIFA allegedly whitewashed the findings.
FIFA is by no means corruption free, and the Picasso pails in comparison to the human rights abuses that Qatar is currently conducting in the face of their 2022 World Cup preparations. However, the report brings to light the political and surveillance machinations that go into a World Cup hosting bid. If a Picasso can be used to help secure a bid, then what treasure is next?