President of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) Angel Maria Villar was detained by Spanish Civil Guards as part of a wide ranging anti-corruption operation on Tuesday.

The Spanish Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that Villar, who has been RFEF president since 1988 and has just been re-elected for an eighth term, was detained along with his son Gorka Villar, Juan Padron, the economic vice-president of the governing body of Spanish football, as well as Ramon Hernandez-Baussou, the secretary of RFEF’s Tenerife branch.

The operation, named Operation Soule, has so far included searches of the RFEF head offices in the town of Las Rozas, to the north of Madrid, and at the offices of the Tenerife Federation. The Prosecutor’s Office said as many as 12 arrests could be made.

Those arrested face charges of appropriation of funds, corruption between individuals and the use of false documents.

The investigation began in 2016 following a complaint by Spain’s High Committee for Sports (Consejo Superior de Deportes) and relates to possible fraud in the organization of friendly games involving the Spanish national team.

“It was possible to determine how the president of the RFEF could have manipulated games between the Spanish national team and other national teams in order to achieve the contracting of services and other commercial relations to benefit his son,” a statement on the prosecutor’s website said.

As well as presiding the RFEF, Villar is a senior vice-president at FIFA (the global governing body of football) and was acting UEFA president (the governing body of European football) between October 2015 and September 2016 following the suspension of Michel Platini on corruption charges.

A former player, Villar is no stranger to controversy. He was fined 25,000 Swiss francs (26,233 U.S. dollars) and warned by FIFA’s ethics committee in 2015 for failing to fully cooperate with its investigation into the 2018 World Cup finals bidding.

Secretary of State for Sport, Jose Ramon Lete, has said the arrest was “not good for Spain’s image,” given Villar’s high profile in the world of football.

Meanwhile, Javier Tebas, president of Spainish football association La Liga, has had a long-standing feud with Villar. His comment was: “I have spent 10 years saying what I thought, you only have to open the newspaper archives.”

The arrests come just two days before the announcement of the fixture lists for the 2017-2018 season is made at the RFEF headquarters. The organization has confirmed this will go ahead as planned. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/