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Barcelona star Gerard Pique profited from Saudi deal, according to leaked documents

Spanish defender's company earned up to €24m ($31m) for bringing Super Cup tournament to Gulf Kingdom, report alleges
Barcelona's Gerard Pique kicks the ball during a match between Elche CF and FC Barcelona on 6 March 2022 (AFP/File photo)
Barcelona's Gerard Pique kicks the ball during a match between Elche CF and FC Barcelona, on 6 March 2022 (AFP/File photo)

Barcelona football star Gerard Pique was involved in bringing the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia in a deal that a company he owns profited from, according to leaked documents and recordings. 

A report published on Monday by El Confidencial revealed that Pique worked with Spain’s football federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales to negotiate a deal with Saudi authorities to bring the tournament to the kingdom. 

Between 1982 and 2018, the Spanish Super Cup was a tournament contested between the winners of La Liga and the Copa del Rey, taking place over two legs at the home stadiums of those participating.

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In 2019, it was turned into a four-team tournament consisting of the winners and runners up of Spain's first division and its annual knockout cup competition and was hosted in the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah. 

Saudi Arabia has since signed a deal to host the competition until at least 2029. 

The leaked documents reveal that the RFEF agreed on a contract that secured €40m ($68m) for each edition of the competition. 

Kosmos, a sports investment company set up by Pique, would be given €4m ($6m) for each edition over six years for its involvement, amounting to €24m ($31m) in total. 

The contract stated that the competition could be cancelled at any time if Pique's firm did not receive its payments in a timely manner.

Real Madrid

El Confidencial revealed a leaked recording in which the 35-year-old defender proposes how to divide the payments, responding to doubts from Rubiales about whether Spanish giant Real Madrid would agree to participate.

"If it's about money and [Real Madrid] would go for 8m euros ($9m), then they get paid 8m euros and Barcelona gets paid 8m euros, too, then the others get paid 2m euros ($2.3m) and 1m euros ($1.2m)," Pique says. "That's 19m euros ($21.5m) and you, the federation, keep 6m euros ($6.5m)."

The Barcelona defender said that they could “even push Saudi Arabia for more”, with the threat that Real Madrid may not otherwise partake. 

In another message from September 2019, Rubiales congratulates Pique after the deal is confirmed. 

"Well done Geri, and I'm not talking about your great game and goal yesterday," the RFEF president says. "I'm referring to the fact that the agreement is signed with Saudi Arabia.”

"Thanks for everything and I'm here for whatever you need."

Pique, who has played for Barcelona since 2008, has been heavily involved in media and business interests whilst still remaining a top-level footballer.

This includes bringing Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten as a sponsor for Barcelona, transforming the Davis Cup tennis tournament in a $3bn shakeup, and buying the Spanish football club FC Andorra. 

The deal to host the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia has garnered backlash over human rights concerns in the kingdom, with protests taking place outside the Saudi embassy in Madrid ahead of the inaugural tournament in January 2020.

Hosting major sporting events is a key part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 strategy to modernise the kingdom and make the economy less reliant on oil.