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Spanish FA HQ and home of former president Luis Rubiales raided as part of corruption probe into £30m deal to move Super Cup to Saudi Arabia | World News


At least six suspects have been arrested after the offices of the Spanish FA were raided along with the home of former president Luis Rubiales as part of a probe into the deal to take the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia.

The investigation is linked to corruption and money laundering over the moving of the tournament to the Gulf kingdom in a deal said to be worth more than £30m.

State prosecutors raided a total of 11 premises across the country today, including the headquarters of the Spanish Football Federation on the outskirts of Madrid and the home of Rubiales in the southern city of Granada.

However, Spain’s Guardia Civil said the former president was not among the six arrested and was said to be out of the country when officers entered his property.

FILE - President of the Spanish Federation, Luis Rubiales, left, and Saudi General Sport Authority GSA chairman Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal carry the Spanish super cup during a press conference in Jiddah Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)
Rubiales and Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal holding the Spanish super cup. Pic AP

A Europol agent and several agents from the Guardia Civil's Central Operational Unit (UCO) leave the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), on March 20, 2024, in Madrid, Spain. J.Barroso/AFP7 / Europa Press 03/20/2024 (Europa Press via AP)
A Europol agent and Guardia Civil officers at the Spanish FA headquarters. Pic AP

Authorities confirmed Rubiales is among the five additional people who have officially been put under investigation.

The office of Spain’s state prosecutors said police and Europol investigators were looking for documents and it expects the operation to produce a total of seven arrests and five more people to be identified as being under investigation.

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In September, Rubiales stepped down as head of the Spanish FA after causing an international scandal for kissing Spain international Jenni Hermoso without her consent when the victorious team were presented with the Women’s World Cup.

The 46-year-old was banned from football for three years after an investigation by FIFA, following the final victory over England in Sydney.

A Spanish Civil Guard officer carries a box and bags after completing a search to the home of former Spanish Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales, in Granada, Spain, March 20, 2024. REUTERS/Fermin Rodriguez
A Spanish Civil Guard officer is pictured after seizing documents. Pic Reuters

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Rubiales resigns as Spanish FA president

He is now awaiting trial for allegedly sexually assaulting Hermoso – a charge he denies.

In 2020 Rubiales overhauled the format of the Spanish super cup by creating a four-team mini-tournament and moving the competition to Saudi Arabia as part of a deal that was reportedly worth £34m (€40m) per tournament for the Spanish FA.

Prosecutors opened a probe of that deal two years later following a leaked audio conversation between Rubiales and then-Barcelona player Gerard Pique regarding millions of dollars in commissions.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has invested billions of pounds to bring various sports to the country including tennis, snooker, golf and major boxing bouts involving Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.

The logo of the Royal Spanish Football Federation
Spanish FA headquarters on the outskirts of Madrid. Pic Reuters

A Spanish Civil Guard officer places a bag in a car after completing a search of the home of former Spanish Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales, in Granada, Spain, March 20, 2024. REUTERS/Fermin Rodriguez
The raid in Granada was part of a corruption and money laundering probe. Pic Reuters

Saudi’s domestic football league launched a buying frenzy to bring some of the game’s biggest stars, such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, to its teams.

The kingdom is also on course to host the 2034 World Cup after Australia announced it would not be bidding.

But concerns have been raised that the splurge is an attempt to “sports wash” the country’s human rights record, especially in light of the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018.

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