“Rubi, do you think by approaching the King… he could help us… that he has a close relationship with the people over there, with the royal family or whoever of the Saudis? Because we can get in there easily. I reckon… well I guess you can get in there too… but I think the king can help us out here for sure. The Emeritus King eh!” And Rubi [Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales] prudently responded to Geri [Gerard Piqué] that it wouldn’t be a good look for the Federation to bypass the Spanish government and get in touch with Emeritus King Juan Carlos. “It’ll come back to bite us,” he said. And that became apparent on Tuesday. We also learned that there had been an attempt to involve the president of the Spanish Footballers’ Association (AFE), David Aganzo, so that after a video in which Leo Messi gave him a piece of his mind the AFE would approve the new dates being crowbarred into the calendar to accommodate the Spanish Super Cup.
Piqué and Rubiales defend legality of Saudi deal
And as such the vice-captain of Barcelona, a club held up by so many supporters of Catalan independence as a banner for their cause, approached the self-exiled Borbón monarch to ask for his services as a facilitator, a proposal that we learned via journalist Susanna Griso Juan Carlos had turned down. Piqué and Rubiales contest that all of it is perfectly legal. And it is. But it is morally defensible? I once read that “a gentleman is a person who doesn’t do certain things even when the law, the church and the majority of society permit it or approve of it.” This manipulation of everything and everyone (the now-defunct Spanish Football Federation Ethics Committee, the AFE, Valencia, Atlético and the rivalry between Qatar and its neighbours) leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.
Simeone stirs the pot of Madrid-Barcelona favouritism
And there is still a simmering second course, which Diego Simeone took it upon himself to stir up on Tuesday: the suspicion that the basis of the whole deal is that Real Madrid and Barcelona will never be absent from the Super Cup. But precisely this year neither side is in the final of the Copa del Rey. Madrid have the Liga title all-but wrapped up and Barça are neck and neck with Sevilla and Atlético in the tussle for second place and the final Super Cup spot, with Betis still also in the running. Meanwhile the match officials, mired in the confusion arising from the new changes to the rules, VAR and the head of the Federation’s technical committee, Luis Medina Cantalejo, who has managed to make everything even worse, run the risk of being accused of ensuring that the final stages of the domestic league are “dangerously prepared” to ensure that Barça finish second. But after everything else, that can no longer be avoided.