MADRID (AP) — After being widely criticized around the country, the president of the Spanish soccer federation said Thursday he will remove the salary bonus variables he earned when Barcelona and Real Madrid succeeded.
Luis Rubiales said one of the reasons for the change was the criticism from Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone, who said it appeared it was better for the federation to have Barcelona and Madrid at the top.
Rubiales and Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué have been in the spotlight in Spain after stolen audio leaked to the media exposed a series of conversations between them talking about behind-the-scenes negotiations on several issues.
One of them was about the highly lucrative Spanish Super Cup deal that Pique’s Kosmos group helped to negotiate with Saudi Arabia and which was worth more to the Spanish federation when Madrid and Barcelona participated.
Since Rubiales’ salary had the variables included, he earned more when the two powerhouses qualified for the competition.
“I’m seeing social clamor over the variables in my salary,” Rubiales told TV channel Telecinco. “That’s going to change now. I’ve suggested that in the next general assembly they make my salary fixed.”
Rubiales had already defended himself of wrongdoing and said it was normal for any company to pay more to its officials when it succeeded. He said there was a difference of 3,000 euros ($3,200) on his salary when Madrid and Barcelona played in the Super Cup.
Rubiales had said he believed there was no conflict of interest — or reason to question refereeing bias — even though he and the federation benefitted when Madrid and Barcelona participated.
Rubiales said the criticism from Simeone made him “rethink” a few things.
“I don’t want Simeone or any other coach to think that there was something wrong,” he said. “It was all legal, but if there is this social clamor, there is no reason to keep doing this. I feel better by changing it.”
In the audio released by the El Confidencial newspaper this week, it was revealed that Piqué helped to negotiate a 24 million euro ($26 million) commission to take the federation’s Super Cup to Saudi Arabia.
Piqué is also heard asking Rubiales to talk to Olympic team coach Luis de la Fuente and set up a meeting between them so he could play in the tournament.
The veteran defender also defended himself this week, saying he didn’t do anything illegal or unethical.
Rubiales had given a news conference on Wednesday and spoke again to a series of media outlets on Thursday to explain himself.
The federation said it was targeted by hackers who stole audio, emails, text messages and documents involving its top officials. The information was then released to El Confidencial.
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