Luis Rubiales’ successor Pedro Rocha under investigation in Spanish federation corruption case

The case examining allegations of corruption during Luis Rubiales’ time as Spanish football federation (RFEF) president took a further twist on Friday as the man who replaced him was also put under investigation.

Pedro Rocha, who took over after Rubiales decided to resign in September, having already been suspended by FIFA over his behaviour at the Women’s World Cup final the month before, had been called as a witness in the case.

But after his appearance at a Madrid court on Friday he, like Rubiales, has now been placed under investigation.

On March 20, Spanish police carried out a series of raids as part of an anti-corruption investigation codenamed ‘Operacion Brodie’ — after Englishman John Alexander Brodie, an Everton fan who pioneered the use of football nets in the late 19th century and worked for a while in Bilbao in the north of Spain.

Guardia Civil officers — one of Spain’s two national police forces — raided the RFEF headquarters at Las Rozas near Madrid, as well as other locations across the country. Seven arrests were made — five in Madrid and two in the southern city of Granada, where a property owned by Rubiales was also searched.

At the time, Rubiales was in the Dominican Republic, where he said he was on business. On his return to Spain on April 6, he was arrested by officers at Madrid airport. He was released after being informed he would be called to speak in front of Judge Delia Rodriguez in a court in the Madrid suburb of Majadahonda — just as happened with others arrested back in March. Rubiales is due to appear at the court on April 29.

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Rubiales was arrested upon his return to Spain (Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images)

Operacion Brodie was set in motion following a legal complaint in May 2022 by Miguel Angel Galan (who in October spoke in depth with The Athletic) over an RFEF deal with former Barcelona and Spain defender Gerard Pique’s company Kosmos to play the Supercopa de Espana in Saudi Arabia. Pique and Kosmos are adamant that deal was all above board.

The current investigation centres on other potential issues. These include the alleged misuse of over €500,000 (£428,720; $543,500 at current rates) from contracts for construction work at the Estadio de la Cartuja in Seville, a venue where the Spain national team often play and which hosted last weekend’s Copa del Rey final won by Athletic Bilbao.

Rubiales has strongly denied the corruption allegations. Rocha is expected to release a statement imminently.



Spanish football’s fresh crisis: Rubiales latest and the RFEF raids explained

The 46-year-old is also due to go on trial on charges of alleged sexual assault and coercion over his kiss on Spain forward Jenni Hermoso. Spanish prosecutors are seeking a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for Rubiales, who has always denied the accusations.

Rubiales grabbed Hermoso by the head and kissed her on the lips after Spain’s World Cup final win over England on August 20 in Sydney, Australia, as she received her winner’s medal.

Hermoso has testified that the kiss was not consensual, and that attempts were made to force her into saying the opposite.

Rocha recently stepped down from his position as RFEF president in order to facilitate elections some, including Galan, have claimed should have been held earlier.

On Friday morning it emerged he was the only candidate due to stand, and it was widely reported in Spain that his election would be ratified on Monday. It remains to be seen how his being placed under investigation in Operacion Brodie will affect this.



Luis Rubiales’ dramatic return to Spain: Wiretaps, corruption allegations and an airport arrest

(Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images)

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