Spanish police have raided the offices of the national soccer federation (RFEF) and the home of its controversial former president Luis Rubiales as part of an investigation into the deal to take the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia.

The probe is linked to allegations of corruption and money laundering after the tournament was moved to the Middle Eastern country in a deal reportedly worth more than €40 million ($43.7 million) per year.

Spanish authorities raided 11 premises across the country, including the RFEF headquarters in Las Rozas on the outskirts of Madrid and Rubiales’ home in Granada.

At least six people have been arrested as part of the investigation, but Rubiales was not one of them as he was said to be out of the country. However, police said he was among five additional people officially put under investigation.

Spanish prosecutors said they expected seven people to be arrested in total as part of the operation.

The raids have been linked to an investigation, launched in 2022, of Rubiales’ decision to revamp the format of the Spanish Super Cup and move it to Saudi Arabia in what was a lucrative deal for the federation.

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A month before the investigation began, a Spanish news website published leaked audio of conversations between Rubiales and former Barcelona player, Gerard Piqué, in which they seemingly discussed millions of dollars in commissions for taking the Spanish Super Cup to the Gulf kingdom.

The recordings, which were brought to light by the El Confidencial newspaper, put Pique – a senior player at heavyweights Barcelona at the time – and his Kosmos firm (set up in 2017 to handle Pique’s commercial affairs) in the spotlight as they outline a commission payment of €24 million made to Kosmos for helping to set up the six-year deal between the RFEF and the Saudi soccer authorities.

The Super Cup deal, struck in 2019, gave Saudi Arabia the right to host the next six editions of the tournament, from the 2019-20 season onwards, while also expanding what had been a one-game competition to a four-match affair featuring four teams (the LaLiga and Copa del Rey winners, as well as the beaten finalists and second-placed team from those competitions).

The deal came to €240 million in total, with Kosmos securing a 10% commission out of that sum. 

Article 24 in the RFEF’s statutes makes it clear that the federation should not pay a commission to any entity for setting up commercial deals it has involvement in.

Pique and Rubiales have denied any wrongdoing, with the latter claiming that the RFEF and the Saudis negotiated together directly and that there was no commission paid.

Spanish prosecutors said that Wednesday’s operation was part of a wider investigation into allegations of corruption in business, improper management of assets, and money laundering.

Rubiales was forced to step down as RFEF president in September for forcibly kissing Spanish player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the winners' medals collection ceremony after Spain beat England 1-0 to claim their first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The 46-year-old was subsequently handed a three-year ban from all soccer-related activities by world governing body FIFA.

He is also awaiting trial at Spain’s highest criminal court for alleged sexual assault and coercion – a charge he denies.