LaLiga chief Tebas behind smear campaign

Spain FA (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales has claimed LaLiga chief Javier Tebas is behind a smear campaign against him, which began over leaked WhatsApp messages.

LaLiga clubs Valencia, Sevilla and Villarreal demanded an apology from the Rubiales earlier this month after the newspaper El Confidencial published several messages the Spain FA chief sent to his father, in which he expressed his dislike for the three clubs.

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“That information comes out the same day we had a league assembly,” Rubiales said in an interview with Spanish radio station COPE.

“Shortly after, a statement from those clubs come out. Tebas is behind it, he calls the places I go to crush me wherever I go… It’s obvious.”

LaLiga declined to comment on the record when contacted by ESPN.

The Spain FA revealed in April that documents and information had been stolen from email accounts, including private texts and audio conversations from the federation’s top executives.

Since then, leaked audio messages have been published in the Spanish press which have put Rubiales under the spotlight.

A defiant Rubiales said those who tried to discredit him would not succeed.

“I see it impossible that something could happen that would make me resign because I am very calm with my management,” Rubiales said. “Our management is outstanding.

“When I arrived [as RFEF president], I didn’t think this was going to be so cruel. What they are doing to me is not honest.

“They want to put someone [in charge] they can control… I am not a president who bows to powerful sectors.”

Earlier on Monday, Tebas said on Twitter: “We are going to put forward Rubialejo [Rubiales] for the Nobel Peace Prize (irony), each one is responsible for his actions and the consequences…”

The leaked information included news that Gerard Pique‘s company Kosmos had acted as an intermediary in the Spanish FA’s deal for Saudi Arabia to host the Spanish Super Cup, which led to allegations of a conflict of interest.

Rubiales has also denied accusations from his uncle and former RFEF chief of staff Juan Rubiales that federation money was used for private events.

“I have not committed any illegality and they will not be able to prove anything,” Rubiales said. “There is not a cent of a Euro that has been misdirected while I am president. I can justify all the expenses.”

Rubiales has been at odds with Tebas since 2013, when the former was at the helm of the Spanish Players’ Union (AFE). Since his election as RFEF president in May 2018, there have been multiple disputes at the heart of Spanish football, some of which have had to be resolved in court.

Rubiales played down the messages sent to his father in which he named the three clubs he disliked the most.

“I haven’t spoken to the presidents of those clubs,” Rubiales said. “I will do so when I next meet them.

“What is private is private, it was a conversation with my father. I’m a former footballer who played at Levante and who had rivalries with other clubs that I respect a lot. Those rivalries are still there.

“To think that it could go beyond that is to think badly.”

Rubiales, meanwhile, also spoke about the ongoing conflict in the Spanish women’s national team.

Fifteen internationals refused to play in Spain’s last two friendlies earlier this month because of a rift with the federation regarding head coach Jorge Vilda.

Spain drew 1-1 with Sweden without those 15 players and then beat the United States for the first time in a 2-0 victory last week.

“My last message to the players on Aug. 15 was to tell them to talk,” Rubiales said. “Then there is a rebellion and 15 individual emails talking about mental health. I had given the possibility for any player to come and talk to me or with someone else at the federation. If they reject that route and what they try to do is to break the order… the line-ups and the calls are made by the coaches.”

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