The President of the Spanish Federation Luis Rubiales and Barcelona defender Gerald Pique find themselves embroiled in controversy after leaked audios published by ‘El Confidential’ revealed their dealings in taking the Spanish Supercup to Saudi Arabia. As the audios indicate, Pique’s company (Kosmos) convinced the federation to expand the format of the competition after highlighting the potential financial benefits.
This would see the Federation sign a deal with Sela (a Saudi Arabian company) of €40 million for each Spanish Supercup played in Saudi Arabia and Kosmos receives a commission of €4 million per tournament. While these dealings already demonstrate a clear conflict of interest, the audios reveal much more alarming facts about their Spanish Supercup negotiations. Some of the details include the following:
- Barcelona and Real Madrid receive substantially more than the other participating teams.
- The deal with Saudi Arabia includes a penalty fee if both Barcelona and Real Madrid do not participate.
- Rubiales and Pique initially wanted the tournament to be played at Camp Nou.
- Luis Rubiales concealed Pique’s involvement in the process.
- The federation would keep €6 million per edition.
However, the most controversial detail the audios revealed about the Spanish Supercup deal was that Rubiales had already signed a pre-agreement to take it to Qatar. While they did not offer as much as Saudi Arabia, Qatar did not include any penalty fees if both Barcelona and Real Madrid do not participate, there would be a surcharge of 3% after the fourth year of the agreement, and did not require any intermediation involvement. Meaning, Kosmos would not receive any commission and it can be heard in the audio how Pique is doing everything he can to make sure Rubiales signs with the Saudi Arabian company. While Pique’s interests are understandable, it does raise a question: If the deal with Qatar was more beneficial for the Spanish Federation and its participants, why would they reject it and sign with Saudi Arabia?
Gerard Pique used his connection with Rubiales to try and help himself
If Luis Rubiales were to have some integrity, then it could be argued since it was Pique’s company who proposed the format change, he did not have intentions of leaving them aside and wanted Kosmos to receive their part of the deal for their involvement. However, since Rubiales probably does not know what the meaning of “integrity” is, then it is safe to assume there were ‘other interests’ involved that made him sign with Saudi Arabia.
It will now need to be determined if there is anything illegal about this deal as a complaint has already been filed with the Public Prosecutor’s Office by the president of the coaches training department, Miguel Ángel Galán Castellanos, for corruption between individuals, prevarication, bribery, and unfair administration. Regardless, the Spanish Supercup deal was not the only controversial issue the audios unveiled, such as Pique and Rubiales using their connection for other interest:
- In 2019, after CF Reus were relegated from Segunda División B due to administrative issues, their spot became available for purchase and there were many teams that express interest, such as Pique’s owned FC Andorra side who were eventually awarded the spot in controversial circumstances. The Spanish Federation used Article 194 of their regulations to justify their decision, which gave teams from the same Federation as Reus the opportunity to submit offers for the spot. However, many clubs appealed to the interpretation of the regulation claiming for a team to be promoted through the courts, they needed to have played in Third Division, which FC Andorra had never done previously. Despite gaining their promotion, the issues would continue as Pique asked Rubiales for Andorra to be in an easier group and not involved with Catalan teams as he felt Andorra would get demolished.
- Pique asked Rubiales to speak with the Spanish Olympic team manager, Luis de la Fuente, to set up a meeting between them to convince him to include Pique in the team for the Tokyo Olympics. In the audio, Pique is adamant that he wants this to be a secret and is even critical of Sergio Ramos for leaking information that he would also be interested in being a part of the Olympic team.
- Pique asked Sergio Ramos to support Rubiales in removing David Aganzo from the presidency of the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE), to which Ramos replied by saying he did not believe they should get involved. Pique would then betray his trust by sending his response to Rubiales, despite Ramos asking for confidentially.
Another Negative Mark for the Spanish Federation
Whatever happens to Luis Rubiales and Gerald Pique, this is yet another negative mark against the image of the Spanish Federation and will cause serious collateral damage. If mistakes made by referees were already intensely criticized, they will reach a completely different level after learning that the Federation gets penalized if both Real Madrid and Barcelona do not participate in the Spanish Supercup. Players and managers (like Simeone) have already expressed their discontent, and even Real Madrid have cause for concern after audio revealed Pique complaining about Barcelona not getting penalties blown in their favor just before an important Clasico in 2019. In that Clasico, Real Madrid were denied some clear penalties and had a goal disallowed with the images not fully showing the entirety of the play.
How can Luis Rubiales even justify the integrity of the Spanish Federation when he hid Gerald Pique’s involvement from his own constituents? Then again, what can be expected from somebody who sacked Julien Lopetegui just before the World Cup in Russia because he agreed to sign with Real Madrid after the tournament, which he felt went against the Federation’s values and raised concern that there could be a conflict of interest. Yet allows Luis Enrique to bring in Barcelona players who are not regulars and interestingly represented by the agency owned by some of his former teammates.
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However, the most unfortunate thing about this is that there will not be any consequences for these actions, even if there is anything illegal. If anybody actually thinks Luis Rubiales will resign and there will be any further investigation, just remember Alfons Godall (Joan Laporta’s former vice-president) PUBLICLY admitted that Barcelona benefited from having connections with Spanish Federation, including with the referees’ department, and there was not any kind of investigation.