Ex-Spanish soccer chief Rubiales arrested in corruption investigation | EUROtoday

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Spanish police on Wednesday briefly arrested disgraced ex-football chief Luis Rubiales in reference to an alleged graft scandal on the RFEF soccer federation when he was president.

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The 46-year-old was detained at Madrid’s Barajas airport shortly after flying in from the Dominican Republic however launched shortly afterwards, a Guardia Civil police spokesman mentioned.

Sources near the probe mentioned he disembarked from the aircraft beneath a police escort earlier than being questioned contained in the airport.

His arrest got here two weeks after investigators searched 11 areas, together with the RFEF’s Madrid headquarters and Rubiales’ home within the southern metropolis of Granada, as a part of a probe into alleged corruption and different crimes.

The March 20 raids have been a part of “an investigation linked to presumed crimes linked with corruption in business, fraudulent administration and money laundering”, judicial sources mentioned.

Spanish media studies mentioned investigators have been trying into RFEF contracts signed since 2018, together with one signed by Rubiales to take the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia.

The Super Cup contracts are value 40 million euros a yr ($43.3 million) with the deal brokered by Kosmos, an organization owned by former Barcelona and Spain defender Gerard Pique.

According to Cadena Ser radio, Guardia Civil police flew to the Dominican Republic and on Monday searched the premises the place Rubiales has been staying, seizing a laptop computer and a cell phone following an order by the investigating decide.

Contacted by AFP, the Guardia Civil refused to touch upon the report.

A day after the March 20 raids, the RFEF sacked its authorized director Pedro Gonzalez Segura, head of human assets Jose Javier Jimenez and terminated its contract with GC Legal, the regulation agency of the federation’s exterior authorized adviser Tomas Gonzalez Cueto.

All three had been arrested by police in the course of the raids.

‘Work and financial savings’

Rubiales was compelled to step down as RFEF boss final September after forcibly kissing Women’s World Cup star Jenni Hermoso following Spain’s triumph within the Sydney closing in August.

The transfer sparked world outrage, with Rubiales set to be tried for the non-consensual kiss which beneath Spanish regulation could be classed as sexual assault.

In 2022, prosecutors opened an investigation into the Super Cup deal after audio recordings during which Rubiales and Pique spoke of multi-million worth commissions have been leaked.

Rubiales has at all times defended the legality of the deal to take the Super Cup to the oil-rich Gulf state, and in April 2022, Pique insisted that all the things was “legal”, saying he was “proud” of the deal.

In an interview recorded the day earlier than his arrest and broadcast late Wednesday, Rubiales denied any wrongdoing.

“I have never collected a bribe in my life. Ever,” he mentioned. “All the money in my bank accounts is the result of my work and my savings.”

Rubiales additionally mentioned he has by no means “rigged a contract”, and reiterated that the switch of the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia was completed as a result of it was “the best offer”.

‘Clear conscience’

The Spanish Super Cup came about for the primary time in Saudi Arabia in 2020.

It returned to Spain a yr later because of the Covid-19 pandemic however the subsequent three competitions have taken place in Saudi.

Pique had performed twice with Barcelona in Spanish Super Cups in Saudi Arabia earlier than retiring from soccer in November 2022.

Rubiales additionally advised La Sexta he couldn’t perceive how the kiss he gave Hermoso might be labelled as sexual assault, saying there was “no sexual context” to it.

He denied accusations that he and different RFEF officers coerced Hermoso by pressuring her to talk out in his defence after the scandal erupted.

“I have a clear conscience, things have been blown out of proportion,” Rubiales mentioned.