Villar pins World Cup threat on Spanish government

Madrid – Suspended president of the Spanish football federation Angel Maria Villar blamed Spain's government for a FIFA threat that could lead to the country being thrown out of next year's World Cup in Russia.

Villar, 67, was suspended from the post he has occupied since 1988 in September for a year after being arrested as part of a corruption investigation.

He was detained in July on allegations of collusion, embezzlement and falsifying documents and spent two weeks in custody before being released on bail.

However, the Spanish Sports Council's insistence that new elections be called for the presidency of the football federation has attracted FIFA's interest for political interference.

"Those responsible for the fact the national team might not be able to be at the World Cup are this government," said Villar at a tense press conference in Madrid on Monday, where he repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

"All member federations have to administer their affairs in an independent manner and ensure that there is no interference from third parties."

Villar is also a former vice-president of FIFA and UEFA, but resigned from both posts following his arrest.

FIFA said on Friday that "a joint FIFA-UEFA delegation will be sent to Madrid shortly to monitor and assess the situation in the association".

However, there has been little concern shown in Spain both by leading politicians and those involved in the game.

"I can't contemplate this scenario. I am absolutely convinced that Spain will go to the World Cup in Russia and, moreover, they will win it," said Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

"I've heard about it, but I don't believe the offices will take from Spain what we have won on the pitch," insisted Spain captain Sergio Ramos.

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