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Ángel María Villar suspended as head of Spanish soccer federation

Government sports body effectively ends three-decade career sustained by high-level contacts

Villar accompanied by Civil Guard officers during a search of the soccer federation's HQ.
Villar accompanied by Civil Guard officers during a search of the soccer federation's HQ. AP

Ángel María Villar has been suspended as head of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) following his arrest on July 18 as part of an ongoing operation targeting the upper ranks of the sport’s top body in Spain.

Also arrested in the operation into alleged financial mismanagement at the federation, which Villar has run for 29 years, were Villar’s son Gorka Villar, and RFEF vice president of finances Juan Padrón, who also heads up the regional soccer federation of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. All three are now being held in prison outside Madrid.

Villar worked closely with international football leaders who have since been indicted by the US Justice Department

Since his arrest, Villar has shown no indication he was willing to step down from the post he has held since 1988, prompting Spain’s Higher Sport’s Council to remove him to limit the damage done to the national sport.

Villar’s suspension is for one year, after which date it will be reviewed and may be extended.

The scandal extends beyond Spain. Beside his position as senior vice president at FIFA, Villar is also a vice president at Europe’s governing soccer body UEFA and has been at the heart of both organizations since the 1990s. He has worked closely with international soccer leaders who have since been indicted by the US Justice Department, and was singled out for questionable conduct in the 2014 FIFA report on the World Cup bidding process.

Court documents indicate that besides allegedly misappropriating funds, Villar is suspected of corruptly working with several regional federations by offering favors in exchange for votes that would see him remain in the RFEF top job.

Villar was returned to office for a new four-year term in May, the eighth such occasion on which he has seen his contract renewed.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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