Trophy without sporting logic since disputed at the start of the season for results obtained during the previous exercise, the Spanish Super Cup did not fascinate the crowds. Economically, it only brought in pipas: 120,000 euros. In 2018, the duel between FC Barcelona, author of the double, and Sevilla FC, finalist of the Copa del Rey, was a fiasco. The Palanganas demanded a “traditional” double confrontation when the Culés, on a US tour, wanted a single game. Finally, Rubiales had decided for a single duel, disputed in Tangier. This notably gave rise to a radio weapons pass started on the Cope and completed the same evening on the Cadena SER between Luis Rubiales and Pepe Castro, the Nervionense president.
So how do you maximize the potential of a competition without potential? Fortunately for the clubs and authorities of the Old Continent, the Gulf countries have both the desire to host international events and the money. The Saudi public company Sela, linked to the local royal family, finds a perfect intermediary to host the Spanish Super Cup: Kosmos Holdings whose owner is Gerard Pique. The FC Barcelona defender’s company contributes to the deal with the Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) and to the total overhaul of the competition.
Rubiales responds to accusations: “There is no financial relationship between Kosmos and the Fed”
YESTERDAY AT 11:22
Take out the popcorn and pour it into a silver bowl!
This is how the new generation SuperCoupe was born: a Final 4 played in January in Saudi Arabia (Rubiales thought of Camp Nou for a time, probably to lure Pique) and a nice check for 240 million euros net out of 6 years to be shared between the Federation, the participating clubs on a principle of overwhelming inequality (for the first edition: 8 million each for Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, 4 for Atlético and only 3 for Valencia CF despite winning the Copa). By way of comparison, the Italian Super Cup, also played in Saudi Arabia, brings in 7 million per edition.
The first edition in 2020 is a resounding sporting success since the final opposes Real Madrid to Atlético, authors of the “Nadaplete” in 2018-2019: the colchonero club was invited as vice-champion of Spain while its rival merengue was by virtue, be careful it’s technical, of semi-finalist of the Copa del Rey with the best record. Why this arrangement? Because the 40 million (30 for the competition and 10 for the training of technicians) is with the two cadors; only one is 35; none is 30. So for Betis, the second Cup semi-finalists, it’s ‘sorry not sorry’. The same goes for respect for human rights. The same goes for the Spanish supporters who, in 2020, were only able to see the matches for free but via Movistar, without forgetting those who would have liked to go there to support their team.
Pique judge and party?
In 2019, the intervention of Kosmos Holdings is common knowledge. It is clearly established that the company of Gerard Pique made the link between the RFEF and the Saudi decision-makers. At the time, there was no question of any conflict of interest concerning the still active player. However, three years later, WhatsApp audio messages between “Rubi” and “Geri” surface in El Confidencial, after the RFEF was the victim of a cyberattack. At the center of the controversy, the commission, a “merit bonus”, received by Kosmos Holdings: 24 million euros, or 10% of the total amount.
If Miami was interested (especially since Real Madrid initially favored the North American market exclusively), it was above all Qatar that appeared as the main opponent to the Saudi candidacy. A pre-contract, published by El Confidencial, for a period of 6 years for 33 million per season with a 3% increase in “prize money” from the fourth year (which would have been 36 million during the last edition) was signed three weeks before the formalization of the deal with Saudi Arabia. The format, the temporality, the always unequal distribution and to the advantage of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona (but only 6 million) were identical… but without financial penalty in the event of the absence of the Merengaugranas and without the intermediation of Kosmos Holdings , therefore without the commission of 24 million.
Since 2020, the Super Cup has been held twice in Saudi Arabia, with Real Madrid and Barça, i.e. €80m. In the event that, for the following editions, one of the two clubs was missing (the joint absence is almost science fiction knowing that in 35 “classic” editions this only happened three times: 2000, 2002 and 2004), that would make a minimum total sum of €220 million. Far more than the €202m guaranteed by the Qatari bid.
Attempts to arrange “Geri”
Is Gerard Pique at the heart of a conflict of interest? He defends himself. There is Piqué the player on one side and Piqué the entrepreneur on the other. On Sunday evening, just after his side were overthrown by Cádiz at Camp Nou, he explained himself on Twitch, with no less than 35 guest journalists. Always a bit provocative, the Catalan admitted that “It’s unusual to see players in this type of business. I like it. I’m not going to apologize. That’s why I’ve been doing it for years”. And to add: “I didn’t get involved for the money. I could sit on a sofa all my life and do nothing. In this society, making money means success and I enjoy being successful in what I do. With these 40 million, the participating clubs get a lot of money, but also those at the bottom”.
Where the shoe pinches is that we hear him discussing with “Rubi” the sums at stake for the clubs and we seriously have the impression that he is the one who sets the amounts. In addition, he “currency” his support and that of Lionel Messi for the candidacy of David Aganzo, president of the players’ union and successor to Rubiales in this position, against an endorsement by him of the new format of the SuperCoupe.
Even if he defended himself having sought to take advantage of his privileged role, Pique has, according to the audios of El Confidencial, tried at least twice to convince, even to put pressure, on Rubiales. Without success each time. The Catalan has indeed expressed the wish to participate in the Tokyo Olympics and asked the president of the RFEF to inform Luis de la Fuente, the coach of Rojita, of his candidacy.
In addition, he also pleaded for territorial preferential treatment for Andorra FC, the club he owns, which went directly from the 5th to the 3rd division after the bankruptcy of CF Reus and after an appeal. of offers that had already made people cringe. Let’s skip the administrative details: Piqué wanted to avoid finding himself in a very tough group, made up of many Catalan clubs while the clubs of the Principality are administratively attached to the Catalan federation. Eventually, the club missed out on the Segunda climb in the play-off final and are currently in pole position to achieve it this time around.
Ruby on nail
The one who received a lot of money in his personal pockets is Luis Rubiales. A week before the publication of the soberly titled “SuperCopa Files”, El Confidencial revealed the emoluments of the president of the RFEF in 2021 (without the 250,000 euros annual received as vice-president of UEFA): 634,518.19 euros gross, i.e. 339,237.12 net. The distribution is as follows: 160,000 fixed, the rest variable in relation to sponsorship and income made. In other words: if Real Madrid and FC Barcelona participate in the Spanish Super Cup, their fees are increased. It is 7 times more than Pedro Sánchez, the head of the Spanish government. It is also 4 times higher than what his predecessor Ángel María Villar received, dismissed after 29 years of unchallenged reign after being involved in the Soule corruption affair.
However, his remuneration takes into account the financial results of the RFEF. And according to Miquel Iceta, the Minister of Culture and Sports, the Federación is “the only one that is self-financing and does not receive any subsidy”. Moreover, the body’s budget for 2022 exceeds 400 million, a record.
Hypocrisy at all levels
From all this emerges a deep sense of hypocrisy. On the part of Gerard Piqué and Luis Rubiales who do not see the problem which, if it is not legal, is at least moral as regards the place chosen and the modalities: Rubiales nevertheless vetoed a report from the ethics committee of the RFEF which opposed the choice of Saudi Arabia.
From opponents of the president of the RFEF, starting with Miguel Galán who was eyeing the position precisely in 2018 and who has already taken the case to court. From Miquel Iceta who claims that a Spanish competition should be played on Spanish territory while the contract with Saudi Arabia frees up money for other federations. From rival clubs and their representatives, starting with Diego Simeone who has the annoying tendency to find a lot of excuses lately. From the press, suddenly defender of the “18 otros” while the debate has always been ultra polarized on the antagonism Real Madrid-FC Barcelona via a chauvinistic “periodismo de bufanda” (scarf journalism in French version) , cockardier and seller. This same press which was uninterested in the old version of the Spanish Super Cup and which would be uninterested in the new version in the absence of the two top names.
Besides, there is a Copa del Rey final on Saturday evening, without Real Madrid or Barça. We hope for such vigorous media treatment both for this Real Betis-Valencia CF and for the next edition of the SuperCoupe, especially if FC Barcelona does not participate. No need to bet, we already know the answer.
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