Barcelona's Pique accused of making $6.5m from taking Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia
Barcelona football star Gerard Pique has been accused of making 6 million euros ($6.5 million) for his role in a 2019 deal that controversially took the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia.
Leaked recordings and documents from 2019, first reported by Spanish newspaper El Confidencial on Monday, reveal that Pique and Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) chief Luis Rubiales colluded to host the competition in the Gulf state.
The deal reportedly guaranteed the RFEF 40 million euros ($43 million) for each edition, and Pique’s company Kosmos was promised 4 million euros a year for six years, according to The Telegraph.
The recordings and documents further reveal that Rubiales agreed to pay Pique six million euros for the deal and tried to hide the Barcelona defender’s involvement.
Pique says everything related to Kosmos involvement in RFEF taking Supercopa to Saudi was above aboard. Doesn't agree there is a conflict of interest & says audios were leaked with bad intentions and "only illegal" element of whole story is the leaking https://t.co/wnOrsARHoY— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) April 18, 2022
Gerard Pique, a former World Cup winner with Spain, is one of Barcelona's senior players and his involvement in the deal could be considered a conflict of interest. The RFEF announced when the deal was struck that they would not pay a commission to Pique.
Both Pique and the RFEF have denied any wrongdoing.
"I have nothing to hide, everything we have done is legal," said Pique during a streaming broadcast 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."
"[The audio was] leaked with bad intentions and making news of something which two years ago was not news," he added. "The only illegal thing is leaking the audios."
The RFEF confirmed in 2019 that Pique’s Kosmos helped the Spanish football federation strike the deal to host the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom will host the Super Cup every year until 2029, according to the agreement.
Saudi Arabia’s human rights record had been a major issue when the RFEF struck its deal with the Kingdom in 2019.
During this year’s tournament in January, Amnesty International had urged the participating teams to wear armbands to protest Riyadh’s suppression of women’s rights and persecution of the LGBTQ community in the Kingdom.
The New Arab has reached out to the RFEF and FC Barcelona for comment.