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SOCCER

Spain’s Ángel María Villar to take over suspended Platini’s duties at Uefa

Spanish soccer federation chief not given presidency and will have to consult on decisions

Villar (right) and Platini at a meeting in July.
Villar (right) and Platini at a meeting in July. AP

Spaniard Ángel María Villar is to temporarily take over all the responsibilities and duties held by suspended Uefa president Michel Platini, the body’s executive committee has decided following crisis talks between the organization’s 54 members in Nyon on Thursday.

However, the committee stopped short of awarding him the presidency while the Frenchman’s 90-day ban lasts. Instead the Spaniard will remain first vice president of European soccer's governing body and will have to consult with the executive committee on all his decisions.

A member of the executive since 1992, Villar received the support despite reportedly facing a Fifa ethics committee inquiry for refusing to testify before US prosecutor Michael García in his investigation into alleged vote-buying during the bidding processes that saw Russia and Qatar awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The move marks the first time that a Spaniard has headed up the governing body for European soccer

The move marks the first time that a Spaniard has headed up the governing body for European soccer and, given the organization’s budget, it also makes Villar the Spanish sporting executive to have held the greatest power after late International Olympic Committee head Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Villar has headed up the Spanish soccer federation since 1988 and has always remained faithful to each Uefa president. He has also served as vice president of Fifa since 2000.

Platini did not attend Thursday’s meeting after the Fifa ethics committee banned him from any activity related to soccer for three months while it continues investigations into a €1.8 millon payment he allegedly received in 2011 from suspended Fifa chief Sepp Blatter for work carried out between 1999 and 2002.

Platini has denied any wrongdoing.

English version by Nick Funnell.