FIFA Threatens to Bar Spain From 2018 World Cup

Angel Maria Villar (C) leaves the prison of Soto del Real near Madrid on August 1 after being granted bail.
Angel Maria Villar (C) leaves the prison of Soto del Real near Madrid on August 1 after being granted bail.

The 2010 World Cup champion Spain runs the risk of being kicked out of the FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia next year after FIFA wrote to Spanish Football Federation warning them about political interference in the electoral process of the federation.

According to, FIFA has sent a warning via a letter to the federation stating that if the Spanish government interferes, FIFA could suspend Spain as an associate member.

The matter in question refers to the Federation President Ángel María Villar who was arrested in Operation Soule - an anti-corruption operation that targeted several high-ranking officials who were named in several alleged offences – in July.

FIFA said the fact that the Higher Council of Sports wants a re-election means government intervention.

Operation Soule was overseen by a high court judge and was an investigation into the possible misuse of the Spanish federation’s finances to help Villar in his re-election campaign.

The investigators claimed he had paid off the regional federation heads to help secure his re-election. He was also suspected of “staging international football matches as part of a scheme to embezzle profits for the benefit of his son”.

The investigation and arrests were conducted just prior to the 2017/18 La Liga season.

 Refusing to Resign

What complicates this matter is that Villa, 67, refused to submit his resignation following the arrest and he was released on bail in August.

Villar had claimed that he was a victim of politics and proclaimed his innocence and even the regional heads issued a statement where they stood behind him through the ordeal.

Although he is currently serving a suspension, acting president Juan Larrea has also backed him. Larrea also refused to suspend Villar.

FIFA Article 13 states: “Each member must manage their affairs independently and ensure that there is no interference by third parties in their affairs.”

The Spanish government believes a re-election is necessary for two reasons - to end Villar’s reign and also rebuild the legacy of a tarnished football federation.

Amidst all this, the Spanish national team finds itself between a rock and a hard place. While a re-election is necessary, the Spaniards will be wary of FIFA’s threat to suspend them and they will be evaluating their options before taking the next step. 

Spain is a superpower in world football and a World Cup without them would be a blow to not only the country but the sport in general. With the World Cup exactly six months away, the hope is that sanity prevails and Spain travels to Russia for the quadrennial tournament.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints