Thu | Jan 18, 2018

Senior FIFA VP resigns amid another corruption case

Published:Friday | July 28, 2017 | 12:00 AM
In this Saturday, July 25, 2015 file photo, UEFA President Michel Platini (left) and FIFA Vice-President Angel Maria Villar Llona attend the preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup in Konstantin Palace in St Petersburg, Russia.

GENEVA (AP):

The corruption crisis in world football has removed another top FIFA official.

Jailed in Spain on suspicion of financial wrongdoing as head of the Spanish football federation, Angel Maria Villar has resigned his top positions at FIFA and European governing body UEFA.

FIFA confirmed yesterday that Villar resigned as its senior vice-president. That followed UEFA's announcement that he had left its executive committee after 25 years. He was suspended as Spanish federation president on Tuesday amid a criminal investigation into allegations of corruption.

Villar exits international football in disgrace after rising to the No. 2 elected position at FIFA, the most senior of eight vice-presidents behind President Gianni Infantino.

Despite Infantino's claim last year of the crisis ending for scandal-scarred FIFA, two colleagues on the ruling council have resigned within three months under a cloud of suspicion.

"FIFA is back on track. So I can officially inform you here, the crisis is over," Infantino told FIFA member federations in May 2016 in Mexico City at his first congress since replacing Sepp Blatter.

However, Villar follows Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, who resigned in April. The Kuwaiti royal left FIFA three days after he was identified in a federal court case in Brooklyn as the source of bribes paid to Asian soccer officials. He denies wrongdoing.

Villar left the week after he was arrested in his native Spain, one of four football officials detained on charges of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

Villar's influence had weakened since American and Swiss federal investigations of FIFA-linked corruption were revealed in 2015. Once seen as a potential UEFA presidential candidate, he could not gather support to launch a bid for the European football leadership one year ago.

 

VILLAR'S ARREST

 

Still, the arrest of a one-time international player-turned-lawyer, and former chairman of FIFA's legal and referee committees, is another blow to the battered image of international football bodies.

Villar was arrested in Madrid along with his son, Gorka Villar - also a lawyer and former director general of South American soccer body CONMEBOL - and two other senior Spanish federation officials.

Spain's government suspended the 67-year-old Angel Maria Villar from the national federation presidency for one year on Tuesday. An interim replacement was appointed on Wednesday.

In a statement on Thursday, UEFA said Villar had offered his resignation a day earlier "as vice-president of UEFA and member of the UEFA Executive Committee with immediate effect".

UEFA said its president, Aleksander Ceferin, accepted Villar's letter of resignation and "thanked him for his many years of service to European football".

Prosecutors in Spain allege that Villar used his influence to funnel private and public funds into regional federations in exchange for votes to remain in power for eight consecutive terms.