Rubiales denies ‘financial relationship’ between Spanish federation and Pique
The president of the Spanish football federation, Luis Rubiales, has denied paying commissions to Kosmos, the events company founded by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, as part of the Spanish Super Cup’s move to Saudi Arabia.
Rubiales has been accused of a conflict of interest after the Spanish website El Confidencial reported the federation negotiated a 24-million-euro ($26 million) fee to be paid to Pique’s Kosmos in return for six tournaments in Saudi Arabia.
The Spanish Super Cup was first played in Saudi Arabia in 2019 as part of a 10-year-agreement struck by the federation, despite opposition due to the country’s human rights record.
Pique answered questions from journalists on Twitch on Monday night after Barcelona’s surprise defeat by Cadiz, which Pique missed through injury.
“Everything we’ve done at Kosmos and what I’ve done on a personal basis is not something that I hide, it’s something that I feel proud of,” Pique said.
Rubiales then held a press conference on Wednesday to address the issue.
“When Kosmos came to us with the possibility of doing business, they were clearly told that they would not have a financial relationship with the federation,” said Rubiales.
“If there was to be any commission, Kosmos would have it from Saudi Arabia, so the federation has not paid, does not pay and will not pay a single euro of commission to anyone for this operation.
“All the media, even the one that published this agreement, agree that it is legal,” added Rubiales.
– ‘Likes to be in the spotlight’ –
In one of the leaked audio messages, Pique asked Rubiales for “help” in his bid to be selected for the Spain squad for the 2020 Olympics.
“Don’t expect me to change,” said Rubiales.
“I will always have a relationship with players. It’s not specific to Pique — there were more players who asked me to go to the Olympic Games.
“I deferred to (Spain’s Olympic team coach) Luis de la Fuente and the decision was his.”
Rubiales also hit out at what he described as the “mafia” trying to undermine his position.
“I am upset this fake news is being prioritised rather than the robbery of private information taken from my phone, a phone where I keep photographs of my daughters, conversations with my friends,” said Rubiales.
“If there are people that can do this, I cannot guarantee that someone one day won’t put a bag of cocaine in my car.”
Pique said on Monday the commission Kosmos received was no more than the market rate.
“In the world that we live in, 10 per cent commission is in line with the market,” he said.
The 35-year-old founded Kosmos in 2017 and in 2018, struck a 25-year-agreement, worth 3 billion US dollars, to reshape the Davis Cup tennis tournament.
“I recognize that it is not usual for a player to get involved in this type of business because, until we retire, we don’t usually commit ourselves to doing other things.
“I like it, what do you want me to say? I like it, I have a good time and that’s why I’ve been doing it for years.”
Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said on Wednesday he has no problem with Pique’s business commitments. Barca play away at Real Sociedad in La Liga on Thursday.
“It’s not a football issue,” said Xavi. “He’s like that, an extrovert, he likes to be in the spotlight.”
Xavi added: “If I thought he was distracted I would tell him but I think it’s like a drug for him, it’s adrenaline. I know him well, he has given us some awesome performances recently and we’ve missed him.”