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Spain: ex-soccer boss Rubiales detained in corruption probe

April 3, 2024

Former Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales is in trouble again after being detained as part of a corruption probe. He is already the subject of a criminal investigation after kissing a female player at the World Cup.

Luis Rubiales passes a police van as he leaves after testifying at the National Court in Madrid, Spain, Friday, Sept. 15, 2023.
Luis Rubiales, seen here after a court hearing in September, was detained again this week.Image: Manu Fernandez/AP Photo/picture alliance

The former head of the Spanish football association (RFEF), Luis Rubiales, was detained by police upon arrival at Madrid's Adolfo Suarez Airport on Wednesday as part of an investigation into corruption during his term as RFEF president.

According to multiple Spanish media reports, Rubiales was detained upon his return from the Dominican Republic, informed that he was a suspect in a corruption probe and ordered to appear before a local court. He expected to be interrogated by a judge in the coming days.

Rubiales under criminal investigation

Rubiales is under investigation for allegedly irregular contracts concluded during his five-year term at the head of the RFEF.

Suspected crimes include corruption, improper administration and money laundering, which are said to be linked in part to a €120m ($129m) deal to hold the Spanish Super Cup as a four-team tournament in Saudi Arabia, brokered by Rubiales and former Barcelona player turned businessman Gerard Pique. Seven people have been arrested so far.

Rubiales – who will deny all the allegations in an interview set to be broadcast on La Sexta later on Wednesday – was originally set to be detained in mid-March when police raided RFEF offices and other properties, including Rubiales' home in Granada.

Luis Rubiales kisses Jenni Hermoso after Spain win the FIFA Womens World Cup 2023
Luis Rubiales kissed Jenni Hermoso after Spain won the 2023 Womens World CupImage: Richard Callis/ATP/picture alliance

The 46-year-old stepped down as RFEF president in September amid the fallout from the women's World Cup kissing affair – when Rubiales kissed Spanish player Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent during the medal ceremony.

He was banned from football for three years by world governing body FIFA but a Spanish criminal investigation is still ongoing.

Rubiales has argued that the kiss was consensual and denied any wrongdoing, but prosecutors are seeking a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence after charging him with sexual assault and coercion.

Rubiales could also be facing a jail sentence in the corruption probe, although custodial sentences up to two years in Spain are generally suspended.

World Cup Kiss

mf/lo (dpa, Reuters, AFP)