Friday, September 17

Rubiales’ strategy in the Federation: complaints to the press and a commissioner of the ‘Kitchen’ operation to minimize risks

“He wants to intimidate us.” With these words, a journalist tells the open confrontation that Luis Rubiales has with some media. As has been able to find out, the president of the Spanish Football Federation has denounced at least five journalists from four different media since he is in office: Onda Cero, El Confidencial, Cope and Marca. Two of them, on several occasions. All, complaints in which he considers that they have written or disseminated messages, on the airwaves or on Twitter, that threaten his honor.

“It goes against the right to freedom of expression,” adds another of the denounced journalists. This newspaper has spoken with everyone. These complaints are the tip of an iceberg of numerous requests for rectification and various acts of conciliation in the courts.

Rubiales has withdrawn at least two of those complaints without going to trial. One of the occasions he did it speaking with the director of the medium, as a gesture of “good will”. In the other, dealing directly with the reported journalist, also with the same intention. “Trying to sign the peace,” recalls the journalist.

The denounced journalists agree that Rubiales justifies his actions because “he believes that there is a criminalization against him; a plot to stir public opinion against him.” His decisions before them, denouncing this information in which he considers that his rights are violated, are thus framed in the scenario of the open war he has against the president of the League, Javier Tebas.

“Rubiales thinks that Tebas and Roures manage us [Jaume Roures, presidente de Mediapro, propietario de parte de los derechos televisivos de la Liga]”Journalists add. From the Federation they defend the attitude of their president.” It is their right to sue if what is said does not conform to the truth. If you consider that it threatens your honor, rectification is requested. If he does not get it, he will complain, “they affirm from the organization. In almost 30 years in office, his predecessor in the presidency, Ángel María Villar, did not sue any journalist.

“Rubiales is not the most skilled president of the Federation communicating and dealing with the press, but he has known how to surround himself very well,” says another of those denounced. “So well, that he has surrounded himself with sharks,” he defines it. In the direct team of the president of the Federation there are several professionals with a very high profile.

Some of them also surprising. As communication director, Marisa González has worked since 2018. She was Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón’s press officer during the more than two decades that she was in the Community of Madrid and in the City Council of the capital and, later, Cristina Cifuentes’s chief of staff. He had always made his career in politics. Until Cifuentes resigned as president of the Community and González made his great leap to football. She is the friendly face of the Federation, in contrast to the tough character of the president. “Intelligent, very good at communicating, direct and loving”, is defined by the sports journalists who deal with her.

In addition to González, two of the important men of the president’s hard core today are two lawyers: Miguel García Caba and Tomás González Cueto. The first is the director of the Federation’s legal advice, who previously worked for Real Madrid and the League. The second, with extensive experience also in sports, acts as an external advisor to the Federation. His office is responsible for the demands against journalists, which have all been, as they say from the Federation, filed on behalf of Rubiales, in a private capacity, and not on behalf of the Federation. Although the same sources do not specify if the payment of these services is made by Rubiales or the institution itself.

The last name is the most surprising: José Luis Olivera. Signed as a risk manager, this police commissioner was, among other positions, head of the UDEF, the Economic Crime and Fiscal Unit of the Police. Today he is among those investigated by the National Court for the ‘Kitchen case’ for the alleged espionage organized by the Ministry of the Interior on the ex-treasurer of the PP Luis Bárcenas. “Why does the Federation need a risk manager and a policeman with that profile?” One of the journalists covering the federative information launched the question on the air.

Federation sources assure that Olivera has not worked in the Federation “for a year and a half” and that “his presence was ephemeral” in this organization.

“Rubiales takes criticism very badly. Although they say from his surroundings that now he is much calmer. Before he was at war with everyone all day”, analyzes a Spanish football leader who has known him for years. “He does not want to get into trouble,” they say from the Federation.

The result of these lawsuits is not good judicially. Last February, Onda Cero announced on its website that a complaint by Rubiales for an alleged crime of libel and slander against José Ramón de la Morena had been filed.

Strategically, instead, it works. One of the denounced journalists confesses that the president’s attitude has caused “self-censorship.” As he describes, now he works thinking if because of what he says he is going to report him, because he does not want it to happen again and have to give explanations to the managers of his medium. He calls it “wear and tear” and doesn’t think it happens only to him. “If he demands you several times, there comes a time when they tell you in the middle that it is better to stop giving the pain in the ass with that topic,” he adds.

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