Ángel Villar, until now president of the Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF), the governing body of the Spanish game, was suspended from his job for 12 months on Tuesday. The decision was taken by the Consejo Superior de Deporte, the sports governing council, part of national government.
The move follows his arrest last week along with his son, Gorka, and a vice president of the RFEF, Juan Padrón, in connection with investigations into corruption and siphoning off of funds from the governing body for personal gain.
Last week a judge ordered Ángel Villar and his son to be held in jail without bail, for fear that evidence could be destroyed, and for Padrón to be held pending a bail of 100,000 euros.
Villar has been president of the Spanish equivalent of the FA for twenty-eight years. However he did not immediately resign from his job after being arrested, as many had urged him to do.
Instead, after a ministry of Sport sanctions committee agreed to open an investigation into Villar’s conduct earlier this week, on Tuesday, the Consejo Superior de Deporte, which oversees the governing bodies of sports in Spain, voted to suspend the accused president on Tuesday.
Pending AGM reconvened
Resolving the issue had become especially urgent as the RFEF had been due to hold its annual general meeting last week. This was cancelled after the arrests, however the board of the RFEF met in emergency session on Tuesday afternoon and appointed long-standing treasurer, Juan Luis Larrera as the interim president. Larrera is viewed as being close to Villar.
The three-hour AGM under Larrera finally convened on Wednesday with the new president making a plea for calm and perspective. “Spanish football is made up of honest people,” he said.
LaLiga, representing professional football teams in leagues one and two in Spain, had urged its members not to take part in the AGM, citing that it hadn’t been convened correctly and that many of the items to be voted on by attendees, including the annual accounts, are directly linked to the serious accusations of corruption for which Ángel Villar has been held.
In the event, members did attend, however discussion and votes on all financial matters were postponed until next Monday, 31 July.
On Wednesday, after being replaced as Spanish football chief, Ángel Villar resigned from his role as a vice president and board member of UEFA.
The net widens
Besides the chaos caused in football’s governing body with the arrest of its high-profile suspended president, there were also further developments this week in the investigation itself.
The director general of Spain’s national football team, María José Claramunt, has been placed under formal investigation by the judge in charge of the case. Claramunt, known as “the boss” of La Roja was involved in negotiating several of the friendly games which Gorka Villar, from which the son of Ángel Villar and a sports lawyer, is said to have benefited from commission payments.
Some further members of the RFEF have also been placed under investigation in the case codenamed ‘Operación Soule’.