Angel is grounded!

ANGEL Maria Villar’s three-decade reign as President of the Spanish Football Federation has come to an end with a one-year suspension for, allegedly, being involved in  corruption.

Villar, Fifa’s Senior Vice-President, behind bars since police detained him, together with his son Gorka Villar, and one of two Tenerife football officials during police raids of the national federation headquarters and other properties, were granted bail on Monday. The other official had already paid a bond to avoid being locked up.

Initially, it was clear to the country’s top sports authority, the Higher Council of Sport, that Villar was unwilling to step down from the post he had held since 1988.

And officials acted promptly to remove him from office in an attempt to limit the damage caused to the national sport,

naming treasurer Juan Luis Larrea as interim President.

Villar, who believed he was all-powerful, suddenly realised he was vulnerable and resigned from his positions as Uefa Vice-President and Fifa Senior Vice-President.

The far-reaching investigation into his affairs, and those of others believed to be involved, has rocked Spanish football.

Court documents indicate that, besides misappropriated funds, Villar, allegedly, corrupted several regional federations by offering favours in exchange for votes.

Spanish Sports Council President Jose Ramon Lete said the 14-member board voted unanimously to suspend Villar and Juan Padron, Federation Vice-President of economic affairs and President of Tenerife’s Regional Federation, who was also arrested in the Guardia Civil’s “Operation Soule”.

Lete added that the Higher Council want to take part in the case as an injured party, alongside the Spanish League.

The scandal also has repercussions for football beyond Spain’s borders. But one thing is sure: Villar, at the heart of both governing bodies since the 1990s, is out of the picture for good.

He had worked closely with some international football leaders, since indicted by the US Justice Department.

Villar was also singled out for questionable conduct in the 2014 Fifa report on the World Cup bidding process.

He was held a police jail to the Soto del Real prison,

followed his questioning by National Court judge Santiago Pedraz, until his bail application was finally accepted by Pedraz.

He said previously that he was a “flight risk” after detailing how Villar, allegedly, misappropriated private and public funds “at least since 2009”.

In a 44-page ruling, which included several quotes from phone-taps carried out by police, Pedraz detailed why state prosecutors allege that Villar used his influence as Federation President to funnel private and public funds into regional federations.

These were exchanged for votes, enabling him to remain in power for eight consecutive terms. The state prosecutor also suspects that Villar used his control of the TV rights for Spain’s friendly matches to secure cash benefits for his son.

Gorka, a sports lawyer, has worked for Conmebol, The South American Football Confederation, under three presidents, who were all implicated in corruption cases.

Also arrested was Ramon Hernandez, Secretary of Tenerife’s Regional Federation.

But Judge Pedraz at first denied bail, then made an about-turn and released them, having previously set a bail bond for Hernandez.

Villar, a former Athletic Bilbao player, and the other three men, are all accused of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

Inigo Mendez de Vigo, Spain’s Sports Minister, has said the Government would be prepared to take charge of the Federation’s operations to ensure that competition was not affected. But it has yet to take that step.

The Spanish Federation is in charge of the national men and women teams, the Copa del Rey (King’s Cup), setting the calendars of the club competitions, as well as the appointment of referees, among other areas.

But it does not control the top two divisions of the Spanish men’s league, nor the women’s league, which are governed by La Liga.

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Posted by on Aug 3 2017. Filed under Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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