Spain’s Euro 2016 campaign started in turmoil due to David de Gea ‘sex scandal’

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Spain will be going into their opening game of Euro 2020 without captain Sergio Busquets after the Barcelona midfielder tested positive for Covid-19, but this is not the first time negative news has hit La Roja on the eve of a major tournament.

The 2018 World Cup was marred by the sacking of former manager Julian Lopetegui, who was dismissed from his post just 48 hours before Spain's opening game due to negotiating a deal with Real Madrid behind the back of the Spanish football federation.

And in 2016, as the two-time champions geared up to mount a defence of their 2012 title, their preparations were scuppered by sex-scandal allegations aimed at goalkeeper David De Gea and Iker Muniain.

Spanish authorities did clear both De Gea and Muniain of any wrongdoing but it wasn't ideal preparation for the Spain side.

The Manchester United shot-stopper faced accusations that he had organised a party at which two women were forced to have sex with two footballers, sparking unwanted attention into off-pitch matters that undoubtedly would have provided then-manager Vicente del Bosque with a headache just as the tournament was set to begin.

First reported by Spanish outlet El Diario, the accusations claimed that De Gea both arranged and paid for an encounter between two Spain Under-21 players and two women in a Madrid hotel in 2012.

The goalkeeper was quick to defend himself in the wake of such serious allegations, explaining: "I am surprised by this, I deny it, and that’s it. It’s a lie, false.

"She [the witness] can give all the details she likes. This is in my lawyers’ hands. I am very, very calm. I know what I do with my life. It is all false. I have no idea [where it comes from] and how it came to be in the press. It’s a way of sullying someone’s image. That’s it."

Another Spain star in Athletic Bilbao forward Muniain was named in the report as one of the two football players that the women were allegedly forced to have sexual relations with.

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Muniain released a short statement after the report came to light, which read: “In response to the information published today about me I wish to state:

"1. The events described are completely false.

"2. In the coming days I will appoint a lawyer to defend my honour.

"3. I hope that all the fans who have supported me on the field of play trust me at this time."

The report went on to claim that De Gea was also named by another witness as the alleged recipient of pornographic videos with a view to arranging meetings with fellow footballers.

In the aftermath of the scandal, a number of De Gea's teammates leapt to his defence and publicly supported him, with Real Madrid star Sergio Ramos explaining: "Certainly, it wasn't very pleasant news to receive about one of your teammates, he [De Gea] has already said all he wanted to say about it, and although we have nothing to add, he has all our support."

Del Bosque simply stated: "We are here to support him at all times and to give him all our love, the boy has explained to us that he had nothing to do with it."

The controversy sparked fierce debate over whether De Gea should start in goal for Del Bosque's side, with many claiming Iker Casillas should take his place as a form of punishment for the long-time United No.1.

However, come the opening group game against the Czech Republic in Toulouse, De Gea was the one handed the shirt as he kept a clean sheet during a dramatic last-gasp 1-0 victory.

Though the Spaniards squeezed through the group stage, coming second behind Croatia, they failed to make it a hat-trick of European Championship titles, falling spectacularly short of their 2008 and 2012 glories.

De Gea was between the sticks for the 2-0 defeat at the hands of Italy at the last 16 stage, ensuring their worst showing since 12 years previously when they failed to make it out of the group stage in 2004.

Just two months after the report came to light, Spanish police cleared both De Gea and Muniain of any wrongdoing due to a lack of evidence.

The 30-year-old maintains his status as Spain's first-choice shot stopper five years on from the dismal showing in France and is expected to start against Sweden as Luis Enrique aims to guide Spain to a third Euros title amid the backdrop of a coronavirus crisis within his ranks.

  • David de Gea
  • Spain
  • Euro 2020

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