Gerard Pique denies wrongdoing over involvement in RFEF deal for Super Cup in Saudi Arabia
Gerard Pique has denied any wrongdoing after audio recordings stolen from the Spanish football federation by hackers revealed the Barcelona defender helped to negotiate a €24 million ($25.9 m) commission to take the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia.
The federation changed the format of the Super Cup in 2020, creating a “Final Four” and moving the competition to Saudi Arabia as part of a deal that was reportedly worth €40m per tournament for the federation.
“I have nothing to hide, everything we have done is legal,” Pique said during a stream on his Twitch channel on Monday. “I will give my side of the story in terms of the conflict of interest. It’s not something I will hide from, I feel proud because we have done a spectacular job.”
Pique’s Kosmos group will be paid €4m per tournament by the Saudi organisers for negotiating the six-year agreement, according to El Confidencial newspaper, which released the audios on Monday.
Pique said in the audio recordings that the money would be divided between the clubs, and the federation would keep about €6m. The federation told El Confidencial there was nothing illegal in what was said in the audios or in the negotiations, and the details of the deal had already been released.
Pique had a similar message following the release of the audio.
“[The audio was] leaked with bad intentions and making news of something which two years ago was not news,” he said. “The only illegal thing is leaking the audios.”
When the agreement was first announced, federation president Luis Rubiales said they would not pay any commission to Pique.
The federation received a lot of criticism from human rights groups at the time for its decision to play in Saudi Arabia.
“We [Kosmos] have good links with the Middle East, not just in Saudi Arabia,” Pique said. “They wanted to take football competitions there and, seeing the panoramic, we opted to speak with Rubiales to see if he could be interested in taking the Supercopa there. He liked the idea. And now people are super hooked on the [new format] of the competition. Once accepted, we signed a mandate to explore options. Saudi Arabia wasn’t the only one, we spoke with Miami, (the RFEF) had an offer from Qatar.”
The Super Cup had to be played in Spain again in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The release of the audio recordings came a few days after the federation said it was targeted by hackers who also stole emails, text messages and documents involving its top officials.
The federation said it believed the information was offered anonymously to media outlets in Spain. It said it asked authorities to investigate.
Also, Rubiales is accused of making some derogatory remarks about Atletico Madrid in some of the audios.
“[The] Atletico comment is a pub joke taken out of context,” Pique said. “We said it because I think Rubiales is a Madrid fan. Honestly, leaking the audios is illegal. Everyone would feel violated if their audios were leaked.”
Information from ESPN’s Sam Marsden was used in this report.