Gerard Pique's part in securing the deal to take the Supercopa de Espana to Saudi Arabia has been revealed after leaked audio disclosed the Barcelona star in discussion with Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales over financial details.
The governing body broke with tradition in 2019 to announce an expansion of the traditional Super Cup format, set to be played in Jeddah.
Now though, leaked audio obtained by El Confidential has shed light on the part Pique's company Kosmos played in convincing the RFEF to make the move, outlining discussions over how much would be needed to convince teams such as Real Madrid to take part abroad.
What did Pique say in the leaked audio?
"If it's about money and Real Madrid would go for €8m (£6.6m/$8.6m), then they get paid €8m and Barcelona get paid €8m too," Pique is heard to say. "Then the others get paid €2m (£1.7m/$2.2m) and €1m (£800,000/$1.1m).
"That's €19m (£15.7m/$20.5m) and you, the federation, keep €6m (£5m/$6.4m). We could even push Saudi Arabia for more, saying that if not, then Real Madrid might not come.
"Rather than you hosting it in Spain, where you won't even make €3m (£2.5m/$3.2m), think about this."
How has Pique responded to the leaked audio?
The World Cup-winning defender has angrily responded to the “illegal” leak of personal conversations that involve his business interests outside of playing football, with the 35-year-old saying he has nothing to apologise for.
Pique has said on Twitch of a deal that is reportedly worth €40 million (£33m/$43m) per tournament to the RFEF and €24m (£20m/$26m) to Kosmos: "Everything we have done is legal, I'm going to expose my part in the conflict of interest, I want to show my face because I have nothing to hide. I am proud of what we do at Kosmos.
"We wanted to change the format of the competition and make it more interesting for the viewer. That has repercussions on income. The president, Luis Rubiales, really liked the idea.
"Saudi Arabia was not the only option. The United States and Qatar were on the table. In the end, they decided to go to Saudi Arabia.
"The commission? In the world that we live in, it's relatively normal. It moves between 10 and 15% and we believed that it was in line with what agencies charge for carrying out this type of management. The commission is in line with the market.
"I brought an opportunity for the RFEF. Before changing the format, they earned 120,000 euros for the competition, after the movement they earned 40 million euros.
"Regarding the recordings, it's an audio taken out of context. I simply help the president to find a formula that makes sense. It's an audio taken out of context.
"I know how to separate what is a commercial agreement from what I have done all my life, which is to play football. I have never received any help. If you tell me that a sane commercial agreement will affect the competition, you have no idea who I am.
"El Confidencial called me a week ago and told me that this will come out. I told them that I don't care. I don't have to hide from anything.”
He added: "You don't have to be very smart to know who is behind the leaks.
"I'm here so that all the journalists ask me all the questions. I want to emphasise that it's a company, that it's not me personally. This company has been dedicated to this for a long time. Operations have been carried out between other companies.
"Why did it come out now? Investigate it, you are the journalists.
"Officially, we collect the commission directly from the Saudi Arabian government. In no case do we collect anything from the RFEF: four million euros (10% of the 40 million euros of the agreement). I don't have any commercial agreement with the RFEF.”
Pique went on to say in a lengthy rant: "I don't want to think about whether they're going after me. It's a malicious leak. What is news is the audio leak itself, which has been illegally leaked. Not the information in it.
"Retiring? No, far from it. This whole situation gives me a few more years to compete.
"In 2019 the news came out. Kosmos will collect an amount of money and the RFEF will collect 40 million euros as well.
"I recognise that it's not usual for a player to be involved in this type of business because a player doesn't do these things until he retires, but I like it. Do I have to apologise? For this? Well, I'm not going to do it, from here on let everyone think what they want.
"I have not gotten into Kosmos and doing business for money. As you can understand I have earned a very good living and I could spend my whole life stretched out on a sofa doing nothing. In the society in which we live, generating money means success and I like that.
"Football belongs to the fans, obviously, but there are fans all over the world. Yes, Barca were aware of what was happening in 2019 with the negotiations and everything was fine.
"Since the relationship with Rubiales from my time as a player with the national team, I understood that there was the confidence to start those conversations. I do not regret it because we have done a very good job. Nothing wrong has been done, morally or legally."