Rubiales to return to Spain amid corruption probe

Former Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales plans to return to Spain next month to be questioned as part of the corruption probe into the deal to move the Spanish Supercopa to Saudi Arabia.

Rubiales was in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday when police raided an apartment belonging to him in Granada, in addition to the RFEF’s headquarters in Madrid.

Six people were arrested in the process, with four subsequently released, while Rubiales was one of several other individuals placed under investigation, a court official confirmed to ESPN.

The official said that a warrant has not been issued for Rubiales’ arrest, though, despite contradictory reports, and that there is no request for him to immediately return to Spain.

EFE later reported that he plans to fly back on April 6 with his family and is willing to cooperate with the authorities, even if that had meant coming back sooner.

Rubiales resigned as president of the RFEF last year following his nonconsensual kiss on midfielder Jenni Hermoso after Spain beat England in the Women’s World Cup final in Australia.

FIFA have since banned him from all football-related activity for three years, while a judge in Spain has recommended the case go to trial on charges of sexual assault and coercion after taking testimony from Rubiales and Hermoso, among others.

However, this week’s events focus on the 2019 agreement to take the Supercopa to the Middle East, which was brokered by former Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué’s company Kosmos.

The RFEF agreed an initial three-year deal, which has since been extended, worth a reported €120 million ($131m) with the Saudi sports authority to stage the competition in Saudi Arabia.

It was a decision that angered Spanish football traditionalists by expanding the contest between the league champions and Copa del Rey winners to a four-team format, shifting the event from August to January, and hosting it outside Spain.

As an active player at the time, Piqué’s involvement and a possible conflict of interest was also called into question, although both the ex-Spain international and Rubiales insisted everything was above board.

However, since June 2022 — after leaked audio of messages between Piqué and Rubiales detailing the commission involved — a Spanish court has been investigating whether a crime of improper management was committed by Rubiales when the RFEF agreed to move the competition.

This week, a judge granted a warrant for 11 premises to be raided for documents on Wednesday, which included Rubiales’ property in Granada and the RFEF’s Madrid base.

A company official told the AP that no employee of Kosmos has been detained or placed under investigation and that no property of the company was among those searched.

The RFEF released a statement on Thursday saying it has opened disciplinary proceedings against two directors and suspended them from their roles.

Pedro González Segura, the director of legal services, and human resources director José Javier Jiménez have been suspended, with the federation adding that the case has caused “very serious damage” to the sport’s image in the country.

Information from Reuters and AP was used in this report.

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