By Andrew Warshaw
July 21 – Angel Maria Villar, FIFA’s second most senior official and an ally of Gianni Infantino, has been denied bail along with his son following their sensational arrest earlier this week as part of an anti-corruption probe by Spanish authorities.
According to a court statement, National Court judge Santiago Pedraz made the decision to keep the Spanish federation president and his son Gorka, plus federation vice president of economic affairs Juan Padron in custody while the investigation continues.
Pedraz set bail at €100,000 for a fourth suspect, Ramon Hernandez, secretary of the regional Tenerife football federation who was also detained.
All four were arrested in raids on Tuesday reminiscent of the infamous 2015 swoop by Swiss police, acting on behalf of US justice authorities, on the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich that led to the biggest corruption scandal in FIFA history.
A state prosecutor accused Villar and the others of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.
Denying bail for Villar father and son, the investigating judge said there was a flight risk due to “the large economic capacity that they have available.”
So far neither FIFA, via its new-look ethics committee, nor UEFA have taken any action but they will surely have noted Pedraz’s remarkable revelation that Villar, whose long career in football politics has been shrouded in suspicion and controversy and whose conduct was singled out in the Garcia report as being “deeply disturbing”, is suspected of financial misconduct “at least since 2009.”
Providing details for the first time, Pedraz alleged that Villar, FIFA’s senior vice-president and also a vice-president of UEFA who has been in charge of the Spanish federation for three decades and briefly ran European football’s governing body after the suspension of Michel Platini, “took advantage of this position of dominance and power in the Spanish football federation in, for example, the naming of its executive board, the awarding of funds, the hiring and paying of federation personnel, as well as the excesses related to the favoring of his son Gorka Villar.”
On Tuesday, a state prosecutor’s office said they suspected the elder Villar of having arranged matches for Spain that led to business deals benefiting his son, a sports lawyer who worked for CONMEBOL under three presidents who were all indicted in the United States.
In May, Villar’s re-election for an eighth consecutive term in charge of the Spanish FA was marred when the only rival candidate withdrew in protest over what he claimed were irregularities in the election of the federation’s general assembly.
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