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Mediapro goes to war with Spanish football federation chief

Spanish producer and broadcaster Mediapro is to take legal action against the president of Spanish football’s governing body, the Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF), over allegations that Mediapro bribed officials to secure rights to the World Cup qualifying matches in Central America and the Caribbean.

Mediapro has demanded a public apology from Luis Rubiales over the allegations.

The RFEF announced in April that it was breaking off relations with Mediapro over allegations that it had made irregular payments to secure the rights. Rubiales told the RFEF board that Mediapro would no longer qualify to bid for rights to the Copa del Rey or the Supercopa de España on the grounds that the federation would not become commercially linked with a company embroiled in allegations of corrupt practices.

The Catalonia-based company denounced the RFEF’s move and claimed that Rubiales was “perfectly aware” that his allegations were false. Mediapro wrote to the RFEF chief on April 11 to inform him that neither Mediapro nor its Imagina Media Audiovisual subsidiary had been condemned for bribery or fraud in any of the countries where they conducted business and that the company considered Rubiales’ allegations unfounded, offensive and inappropriate.

The RFEF has meanwhile reaffirmed that it will no longer do business with Mediapro, alleging that Mediapro Group companies had accepted culpability in a case brought before the US Department of Justice.

Mediapro’s US-based parent company agreed to pay US$24 million to settle the case last July, avoiding prosecution. The company was one of about 40 entities and individuals named by US prosecutors in the case involving bribery to secure rights to the qualifying matches.