President of Spanish FA arrested on corruption charges

Ángel María Villar Llona and four others detained after raids at Madrid headquarters

Spanish FA president Ángel María Villar Llona. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Spanish FA president Ángel María Villar Llona. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

 

Police have arrested Spanish Football Federation president Angel Maria Villar, his son and three more federation executives as part of an anti-corruption probe.

Spain’s Guardia Civil said in a statement that Villar, his son Gorka Villar and three other officials were detained when raids were carried out at the federation headquarters in Madrid.

Villar is also a senior vice president of Fifa and Uefa.

Police said the other three men who were arrested were Juan Padron, federation vice president of economic affairs, and the president and the secretary of the regional federation for Tenerife.

Officers said the five men were arrested on charges of corruption as part of a probe into the finances of the federations.

Spain’s minister of education, culture and sport, Inigo Mendez de Vigo, told national television moments after the raids: “In Spain the laws are enforced, the laws are the same for all, and nobody, nobody is above the law.”

Uefa said in a statement it “is aware of the reports. We have no comment to make at this time”.

Police said the men were arrested on charges of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents. The raids were carried out by the Guardia Civil’s anti-corruption unit as part of an operation called SOULE.

Villar, 67, has been the head of the Spanish federation since 1988, overseeing its national team’s victories in the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

He has also been at the heart of Fifa and Uefa politics since the 1990s, and has worked closely with several international football leaders who have since been indicted by the US Department of Justice.

Gorka Villar worked in recent years for South American body Conmebol, as legal director then director general for three presidents who were implicated in the American federal investigation. He left Conmebol in July last year.

Angel Maria Villar was a tough midfielder for Athletic Bilbao and Spain before retiring to work as a lawyer and football administrator.

He was elected to the Uefa executive committee 25 years ago, and Fifa’s ruling committee 19 years ago. He has also been an influential figure in the legal and referees committees of both organisations.

Increasingly seen as a polarising figure with leadership ambitions, he decided against trying to succeed Michel Platini as Uefa president last year.

Before joining Conmebol, Gorka Villar was a prominent sports lawyer in Madrid. He helped represent cyclist Alberto Contador in a failed appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against losing the 2010 Tour de France title after a positive doping test.

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