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Spanish government wants to suspend FA boss Angel Maria Villar after arrest

Angel Maria Villar talks during the 64th FIFA Congress at the Transamerica Expo Center in Sao Paulo.
Angel Maria Villar has been president of the Spanish football federation since 1988.

Spain's sports authority is seeking the temporary removal of Angel Maria Villar, the president of the Spanish Football Federation, after his arrest and imprisonment in an anti-corruption investigation.

The Higher Council for Sports said it will ask Spain's administrative court for sports to open a disciplinary procedure against the executives of the Spanish football federation, which has been headed by Villar for almost three decades.

The council said that after knowing the court's decision, it plans to call a meeting of its own executive committee to agree on the temporary suspension of Villar and the other federation executives.

Inigo Mendez de Vigo, minister of education, culture and sport and the government's spokesman, said on Friday that the government is prepared to take charge of the operations of the federation so Spanish football is not harmed by the scandal.

"What we want is to guarantee the complete normalcy of the institution when its president and vice president are in prison because of a judge's decision [to deny them bail]," Mendez de Vigo said. "We want to send a message to the big family of football so everyone knows that we are taking steps."

La Liga president Javier Tebas, a longtime critic of Villar, said that the federation needs to be purged.

"Villar is history for Spanish football. Now we have to get rid of 'Villarismo,''' Tebas said. "More tentacles will come out, but we need to let some fresh air in. It doesn't matter if Villar is no longer around if the system of corruption continues."

Villar, his son Gorka Villar, federation vice president Juan Padron, and the secretary of the regional football federation of Tenerife, Ramon Hernandez, were arrested on Tuesday during police raids of the offices of the national federation in Madrid, several regional federations and private properties.

National Court judge Santiago Pedraz questioned all four suspects on Thursday. Afterwards, he denied bail for the Villars and Padron. The judge set bail for Hernandez at €100,000.

A state prosecutor accused the four officials of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

Judge Pedraz said the 67-year-old Villar is suspected of misappropriating private and public funds received by the federation "at least since 2009."

In a 44-page ruling that included several quotes from phone taps carried out by the Guardia Civil, Pedraz detailed why state prosecutors allege that Villar used his influence as federation president to funnel private and public funds into regional federations in exchange for votes to remain in power for eight consecutive terms.

The state prosecutor also says that Villar used his control of Spain friendlies to secure economic benefits for his son Gorka, a sports lawyer who has worked for CONMEBOL under three presidents who were all implicated in corruption cases.

Villar is also FIFA's senior vice president and a vice president of UEFA. As president of the Spanish federation since 1988, he oversaw the 2010 World Cup title and two European Championships won by Spain.

Two weeks ago, he answered a judge's questions as part of an investigation into accusations brought by the Higher Council of Sports that his federation had committed fraud in the misappropriation of €1.8m that was destined for humanitarian relief in Haiti.

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