Rubiales denies receiving illegal payments in probed Copa deal

In a four-hour court appearance on Monday, former Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales denied receiving any illegal payments as part of the deal which took the Spanish Supercopa to Saudi Arabia.

Rubiales, 46, faced questioning as part of an investigation into alleged corruption, money laundering and dishonest administration related to contracts signed during his five-year reign at the Spanish football federation between 2018 and 2023.

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Rubiales resigned as RFEF president in September last year after facing weeks of criticism for kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the celebrations which followed Spain’s Women’s World Cup win a month earlier.

A criminal inquiry into that incident is also ongoing, with prosecutors seeking a 2 1/2 year jail term for Rubiales.

Rubiales was arrested earlier this month on his arrival back in Spain from the Dominican Republic after he was named a suspect in a corruption inquiry which saw police search the federation’s headquarters and Rubiales’ house.

On Monday he arrived at the court in Majadahonda, on the outskirts of Madrid, at just after 9.30am CEST, and emerged five hours later, giving a brief statement to reporters.

“I’ve answered all the questions that I was asked,” he said. “If I have to come back again, if the judge says so, I’ll be here, collaborating. Everything being cleared up interests me more than anyone else. In the five years that I was lucky enough to work happily at the federation, our management speaks for itself, financially, and in a sporting sense.

“I also suffered constant attacks and legal complaints and so on, and this is another example. Of course, as I’ve always maintained — and as I’m sure the legal system will find — that there’s never, never been any money received in an irregular way. There have never been any irregular tenders. We’ve always worked with excellence and legality.”

The judge in the case ruled that Rubiales could keep his passport but would have ask permission if he wished to travel outside Spain, and he must report to the court each month, the EFE news agency reported.

In his testimony, Rubiales denied paying commission to the former Barcelona and Spain defender Gerard Piqué and his company Kosmos as part of the agreement which took the Spanish Supercopa to Saudi Arabia in 2020.

He said that the agreement with the Saudis “saved [Spanish] football” as it faced a challenging financial environment during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the contracts involved were reviewed and approved by the federation’s compliance and ethics committees.

Rubiales also defended the decision to award the contract for improvement works at La Cartuja Stadium in Seville — which hosts the Copa del Rey final, as well as Spain’s men’s and women’s national team games — to a company, Gruconsa, without a public tender process.

Rubiales successor at the RFEF and former vice president Pedro Rocha was elected unopposed as president last week. He was also named a suspect in the corruption inquiry after giving evidence as a witness earlier this month.