Gerard Pique denies any wrongdoing in RFEF deal

Gerard Pique denies any wrongdoing after leaked audio recording reveals his company pocketed £20m due to his involvement in the controversial RFEF deal to take the Spanish Supercopa to Saudi Arabia

  • Gerard Pique was reportedly involved in the deal for Super Cup in Saudi Arabia
  • His company is said to have pocketed £20million for helping secure the deal
  • A leaked audio recording hears him discussing the financial details of the deal
  • Pique refutes claims that there was a ‘conflict of interest’ due to his role at Barca
  • Defender also insists he has ‘nothing to hide’ and everything was done ‘legally’

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has denied any wrongdoing after it was revealed that his company Kosmas had reportedly pocketed £20million for helping bring the Spanish Supercopa to Saudi Arabia.   

A leaked audio recording has revealed that the Barcelona star was in talks with the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president, Luis Rubiales, over the financial details of the deal.

The 35-year-old defender refutes claims that there was a ‘conflict of interest’ due to his role within the Barcelona squad and insists he has ‘nothing to hide’ because everything was done ‘legally’.  

Gerard Pique was reportedly involved in the RFEF deal for Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

According to leaked 2019 messages obtained by El Confidencial, Pique is heard discussing the financial details of the deal to bring the Spanish Supercopa to Saudi Arabia. 

According to El Confidencial, via the Mirror, it was Pique who informed the Spanish FA that Saudi Arabia were interested in hosting the tournament in exchange for a large sum of money.   

Rubiales is said to have aired his concerns over Real Madrid’s stance over the Supercopa being held in Saudi Arabia. The RFEF president said Real Madrid would be reluctant to play outside of Spain. 

Pique is said to have responded by outlining the financial terms that would help secure a deal with Real Madrid. The audio recording claims he said: ‘If it’s about money and Real Madrid would go for €8million (£6.6m).

‘Then they get paid €8m and Barcelona get paid €8m too. Then the others get paid €2m (£1.7m) and €1m (£800,000). 

The Spanish Super Cup tournament was played in Saudi Arabia in January 2020

The semi-final and final of the tournament took place at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium

‘That’s €19m (£15.7m) and you, the federation, keep €6m (£5m). We could even push Saudi Arabia for more, saying that if not, then Real Madrid might not come.    

‘Rather than you hosting in it Spain, where you won’t even make €3m (£2.5m), think about this.’ 

Rubiales was said to be happy with Pique’s proposal and subsequently asked the Spanish defender to speak with Sela – who are a marketing firm in Saudi Arabia that are responsible for organising major sporting and cultural events.

Additionally, Pique is said to have tried to meet with Rubiales on numerous occasions. He reportedly asked the RFEF president whether he could visit him at the Spanish FA headquarters following Barcelona’s match in Madrid. 

Pique also discussed the possibility of meeting at the Nou Camp after Barcelona were confirmed as LaLiga champions in the 2018-2019 season. He allegedly said: ‘What’s going on, Rubi, is everything okay? Is everything under control? I guess we’ll see each other tomorrow after the game. 

‘If that’s the case, we’ll meet for a moment there in the locker room if you need to talk about something. From your side, it seems that everything is ok, right? There will not be any problem.’ 

Pique is said to have discussed the financial details of the deal with the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president, Luis Rubiales

Pique tried to meet with Rubiales after Barcelona won the LaLiga title in the 2018-2019 season

Rubiales started to have doubts about how the public would react to the fact they had decided to move the competition to Saudi Arabia. However, Pique was quick the defend the decision and encourage the RFEF president to progress with the deal.  

Pique reportedly said: ‘Rubi, I perfectly understand your position, but think about it for a moment. If you now…when everyone already knows…it was a rumour that we were going to Saudi Arabia. 

‘If now you change your mind and go to another place simply because of the fact that people have found out about this, they are going to use it against you . They are going to say that you were going to go to Saudi Arabia, you were going to do this and how they caught you, well now you change your mind.

‘I would value it, because in this way you show that you were not doing anything wrong, do you understand? And besides, you go with the same people and with the same price. And you can say, ‘No, no, you were wrong. This is a lie, what you are saying.’ That’s why, damn, just spin it. We have until the 8th to talk about it and we think about it.’

As a result, a six-year deal worth £33m per annum was signed between the Spanish FA and Saudi Arabia. Pique’s company Kosmas were also handed a net total of £20m for their involvement.   

El Confidencial have also stated that a voice message was sent to Pique after the deal. Rubiales is said to have congratulated the Barcelona star on September 15, 2019 – with the first edition of the tournament being held in the following January.

‘Well done Geri and I’m not talking about your great game and goal yesterday,’ the RFEF president reportedly said. ‘I’m referring to the fact that the agreement is signed with Saudi Arabia. 

The Barcelona defender suggested chatting in the Nou Camp changing room after their game

Pique (left) has denied any wrongdoing as he says the deal was ‘legal’ and insists he has ‘nothing to hide’ 

The RFEF president went on to add: ‘Thanks for everything and I’m here for whatever you need.’ 

Pique has since denied any wrongdoing – taking to his Twitch channel on Monday to say: ‘I have nothing to hide, everything we have done is legal.

‘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.’ 

He went on to add: ‘[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.’ 

Pique’s involvement in the deal could be regarded as a potential conflict of interest given the fact he is a member of the Barcelona squad.  

Kosmos – founded by Pique – were not paid directly by the Spanish Federation but by Sela

However, the Spanish FA said on Monday morning: ‘The information does not add anything new to what was published in 2019. All the numbers of the operation were presented, explained and supported by the Football Assembly.’   

Pique also says he does not believe his company Kosmos negotiating a commission of £20m to help the Spanish Football Federation set up the four-team Spanish Super Cup tournament in Saudi Arabia, leaves him open to claims of a conflict of interests.

RFEF are responsible for deciding which referees officiate in which games in Spain and critics of Pique’s involvement in the deal say, as a current Barcelona player and owner of third tier club Andorra, he was leaving himself open to suspicion in the future.

Pique said: ‘We live in a culture in which people always think that there is a hidden agenda. Just because 100,000 people or 1,000 people do it doesn’t mean that everyone does it. Do you think that because of an agreement like this the president of the RFEF is going to say something to a referee?

‘Against Real Sociedad B we [Andorra] were eliminated with nine men and a penalty. The president has to fight to generate as much money as possible. If he succeeds, he deserves it. That happens in any company. I’m not going to give up something I enjoy doing. I have never stopped doing something because of what people say. I know what I’ve done.’

Kosmos were not paid directly by the Spanish Federation but by Sela the agency working on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

Pique’s company has also been behind the revamping of the Tennis tournament, the Davis Cup

Pique, meanwhile, confirmed there was a financial penalty agreed in the deal that would be payable to Saudi Arabia if either Barcelona or Real Madrid did not compete in the tournament.

That might have to be paid next January with Barcelona not one of the two cup finalists and not guaranteed a place in the top two.

Asked about the merits of taking a tournament traditionally played in Spain to Saudi Arabia and about the ethical questions raised around the country, he said: ‘It [football] belongs to the fans, but the fans are all over the world. 

‘Taking it there makes it possible for everyone to experience it live. The fan is not just from the same country. There are global clubs. Taking football everywhere helps to have more fans.’

Pique’s company has also been behind the revamping of the tennis tournament, the Davis Cup. And he played a part in Barcelona’s last shirt sponsorship deal with Japanese company Rakuten.

‘I’m not in it for the money, I could spend my whole life lying on a sofa doing nothing,’ he said on his Twitch channel on Monday night. ‘I think we have done a great job. I don’t think we have done anything wrong, neither legally nor morally.’

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