Spain to decide whether to suspend main candidate to lead soccer federation

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024

MADRID: Spain’s government said on Tuesday it will decide whether to suspend the frontrunner to lead the country’s soccer federation (RFEF) while it determines with FIFA how to reform an organization mired in a corruption scandal.

Jose Manuel Rodriguez Uribes, president of the state-run Superior Council of Sport (CSD), told a parliamentary hearing he had called for a meeting of the CSD board after Spain’s sports tribunal TAD on Monday opened a case against Pedro Rocha and the RFEF’s leadership for “very serious misconduct” and a criminal court judge advanced a separate investigation over alleged corruption within the federation.

“I have conveyed to (FIFA) our concern and our determination to take every measure to ensure that a reputational crisis such as this can never happen again,” Uribes said in the hearing.

Rocha, who had been acting as the RFEF’s stand-in president and hoped to be annointed permanently in the next month, was placed under investigation by a judge last week after testifying as a witness in court. He was the sole candidate to succeed the disgraced former head Luis Rubiales.

“Given the seriousness of what is happening, the reality is that a possible charge of prevarication is on the table against those who sign resolutions that they understand do not respect the legality or the rights of Pedro Rocha,” sources close to Rocha told Reuters.

Spain is trying to turn the page on a series of scandals within the RFEF as it gears up to co-host the World Cup in 2030.

Rubiales and colleagues have been under investigation since June 2022 over potential malfeasance for a deal with former Barcelona player Gerard Pique’s Kosmos firm to relocate the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia in a deal worth a reported 120 million euros ($129 million). Rocha was vice president of the federation under Rubiales and head of the financial board when the RFEF signed the Saudi Super Cup deal.