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President of Spain’s FA arrested. And behind the corruption, there are stories of referee fixing.

 

by Tony Attwood

A couple of days back, police in Spain say arrested Ángel María Villar Llona, the president of Spain’s football association, Real Federación Española de Fútbol, on suspicion of embezzling funds.

It is an interesting move because Villar Llona is also a senior vice-president at Fifa and Uefa those two gloriously clean and untarnished organisations running world football.  Mr Villar was acting president of Uefa, while that other reprobate Michel Platini was under investigation. Villar Llona lost out in an election for the Presidency of Uefa last year.   But for good measure and to show there are no hard feelings the authorities also arrested his son (Gorka) and three other executives from RFEF during raids on the Spanish FA’s HQ in Madrid.

There are two issues behind Villar’s arrest. One is that the international investigation into football corruption which is taking place as the FBI get more and more interested in the racketeering that Fifa is alleged to be involved in.  The second is that it seems the Americans like to keep everyone guessing, so they never quite know who is going to jumped on next.

 

Spain’s High Court told Reuters that one of its investigating magistrates and anti-corruption prosecutors were leading the probe while Spanish media reports say that the allegations centre on the falsification of documents and the removal of profits from international football matches for personal gain.   So fairly standard stuff in all these cases.

 

Villar Llona served on the council of football’s world governing body Fifa for the past 29 years, but was reprimanded by Fifa for failing to comply with its internal inquiry into the 2018/22 World Cup bidding process.

We should note that Mr Garcia, the investigating officer, was then warned by Mr Villar that he should drop the case for his own good.  I think that is the sort of phraseology that the Mafia was known for.

 

 

As ever we get information on such events from sources in Switzerland (“as ever”, because these are not matters that the UK press likes to talk about day by day for fear that one day someone will ask – why does the British government keep funding Fifa and Uefa via the FA?)

Behind the most recent arrests, the information needed to spark the arrests has arisen from the interrogation of Fifa members already found guilty of corruption, and concerted action by various criminal authorities not as worried about getting involved in football as those in the UK are.  And so through these actions we gradually find out more and more about the stories of the total and absolute corruption from top to bottom in Fifa.

And indeed (again although you will hardly have read about it in the UK) throughout the spring, the FBI has been in Spain, purpose of the trip: a discreet information collection activity around Villar Llona.

Now Villar Llona and controversy go back a long way.  For example, following Spain’s controversial exit at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, he left his post as a Fifa Vice President, but was immediately put up for the presidency of the Referees’ Committee for Fifa and gained that post with Uefa.

This is interesting because we have of late seen some very interesting Barcelona matches especially in the Champions League in which the refereeing was what we might call “interesting”.  And it was an interesting appointment given that South Korea in particular, faced scrutiny and allegations of corruption after their victory over Spain.

Moving on, Villar Llona is said to have maintained business relations with the Sandro Rosell, who was imprisoned in May, and who was from 2010 to 2014, President of FC Barcelona.  And thus through this there is a link to the notoriously corrupt agency ISL.

ISL used at least 142 million Swiss francs bribe to sports officials.  But meanwhile in Barcelona, ​​Rosell’s ISL España is still working away and apparently is said to maintain particularly close business links with FC Barcelona and Qatar – business links that have had Rosell as a central figure.

And now we have further connections with the Fifa-man Villar Llona.  The Fifa Ethics Committee of course took action when they found allegations of wrong doing.  They fined Villar Llona all of 25,000 francs because of the way he handled the controversial World Cup award to Russia for the 2018 tournament – which of course is still going ahead.

And then we have the world cup in Qatar.   At that round of bidding Villar Llona was the head of a joint application for Spain and Portugal to host the finals.   But he is alleged to have worked with Qatar, sharing information on the Iberian bid with Spain and Portugal’s rivals. He denies any wrong doing.

At the time, however, Lord David Triesman, the head of the failed English bid which only gained two votes (to the amazement of the English team who thought they were in with a chance of winning and so spent millions of pounds of public money putting the bid together) suggested there was another allegedly crooked deal by Villar Llona.  This deal involved Russia helping to bribe referees so that Spain could become world champion in the South Africa world cup in 2010.

As a result of this “exchange of views” it was said that Spain would withdraw from the bid and direct its application to host the world cup and instead vote for Russia.  In those countries where such matters are more openly discussed than in Britain, it is being said we are still on the tip of the iceberg.  There’s a lot more underneath.

But it is interesting that here we have allegations of corruption that stretch back through this century and which involve not just taking bribes but undermining one’s own bid, and the corruption of referees.

All Untold can do is report the stories we hear and what our correspondents in Europe find in their newspapers.  We don’t have the resources to check these stories or go hunting.  All we can do is join together some dots and say, “oh look there seems to be a pattern.”   And then ask questions such as, “Why, if refereeing in England is so perfect, is it run by a hyper-secret body that bases itself on an organisational model that has been rejected throughout the rest of Europe?”

Just questions.  But it is interesting when allegations of bribery and corruption in relation to funding starts to collide with questions about refereeing of matches at the highest level.

18 comments to President of Spain’s FA arrested. And behind the corruption, there are stories of referee fixing.

  • Leon

    Also arrested along with Villar LLorna was his son Gorka & three others. Your Swiss sources are a bit late with this as it was widely reported in the UK media on the day of the arrests (Tuesday).
    I don’t understand why you continuously deny that the UK media report on these corruption issues. They do, and usually well ahead of you or your so called “sources”

  • Chris

    @Leon,

    what’s the message there ?!?! As Tony wrote, all UA does is report on what it can see and try to connect the dots.
    Is anything wrong with what he wrote ?
    UA has been raising corruption for years and is one of the few places where there is a will to report on it seen from all angles. Not everybody reads all papers in the UK and accross Europe and many sources in the UK furthermore tell just a little bit of the story and do not try to connect the points.

    So what’s your complaints ? That UA does not have a backroom of Pulitzer price winning reporters all looking like Redford and Hoffman being followed on a live stream as they do their work and unearth the truth ?

    You may not agree with what is being said, fine. But why such a disrespect ? You can get officially vetted information from http://www.uefa.com and http://www.fifa.com if that can help. They may be happy for your positive comments.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Chris, maybe Leon wants Tony to be working on Untold 7/7 24hrs? And publish as soon as arrests are made?
    Our Swiss correspondent is a person who also has a live outside Untold so he also has to find time to write and then has to send it to Tony who has to find time to publish it at a good time. If an Arsenal match is being played this goes first of course.
    Maybe Leon could tell us what has been written in the UK media since then?

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    @ Leon,
    why have you become so hard on Mr Tony Attwood and hammering him for his coming out to let us know the full details that led to the arrests of the president of the Spanish football association president, Mr Villar Liona, his son and three others by the Spanish criminal authorities for their alleged involvement in financial corruption, fraud, stealing, racketeering,, money laundering and deceit. Which is unbecoming of Mr Liona’s position as the head of the Spain’s football association and a vice president of Fifa? Which at the time of his arrest, some days ago when the arrest of Mr Liona first surfaced in the UK media including the BBC from were I first read about these arrests, the details for their arrests were not made available by the UK media outlets as Mr Attwood’s Untold Arsenal has now fully made them available for the UA readers to know for what and what reasons Mr Liona and his collaborators were arrested for.

    Therefore, Mr Tony Attwood should be applauded and not condemned for the excellent work he has done to explain to us the full reasons behind Mr Liona and his Luitnents arrests.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    @ Leon,
    why have you become so hard on Mr Tony Attwood and hammering him for his coming out to let us know the full details that led to the arrests of the president of the Spanish football association president, Mr Villar Liona, his son and three others by the Spanish criminal authorities for their alleged involvement in financial corruption, fraud, stealing, racketeering,, money laundering and deceit? Which is unbecoming of Mr Liona’s position as the head of the Spain’s football association and a vice president of Fifa. Which at the time of his arrest, some days ago when the arrest of Mr Liona first surfaced in the UK media including the BBC from were I first read about these arrests, the details for their arrests were not made available by the UK media outlets as Mr Attwood’s Untold Arsenal has now fully made them available for the UA readers to know for what and what reasons Mr Liona and his collaborators were arrested for.

    Therefore, Mr Tony Attwood should be applauded and not condemned for the excellent work he has done to explain to us the full reasons behind Mr Liona and his Luitnents arrests.

  • Leon

    I’ve got no problems with what Tony reports at all. I just wish he wouldn’t pretend that the UK media ignores the corruption that goes on in football. They’re always ahead of him, but he continuously denies it. In fact he often says that they get their info from Untold.
    He never gives credit to the good reporting by sports journalists, but instead suggests that they suppress corruption stories.

  • Chris

    Leon,

    well, next time you see some report why don’t you send the link to Tony. It will make UA a few days quicker.

  • goonersince72

    or good reporting. Scarce these days.

  • Mihir Saudagar

    I am waiting for a good article from untold on Monaco’s moves on Kylian Mbappe

    http://www.skysports.com/football/news/11816/10955390/monaco-accuse-kylian-mbappe-suitors-of-tapping-up-teenager

  • Menace

    Leon seeing as your eyesight is so good, where have you seen any reports on corrupt officiating by UK officials?

  • Minesy

    Leon

    If that is the case why do none of these wonderful sports journalists at the BBC seem to notice this stuff … I hadn’t noticed it on the BBC Sport site so searched it …

    It is there, BUT on the European news section not is sports …

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-40642635

  • Nitram

    Grass is green !

    A pretty pointless thing to say I know, but I thought I’d just give Leon something else to argue about.

  • Andy Mack

    Actually I agree with Leon in as much as many of the implied ‘exclusive’ (or at least exclusive in the UK) articles on this site aren’t exclusive at all.
    Yes they aren’t widely reported here and even less on an ‘in depth’ basis (probably because a tiny proportion of joe public are actually interested), but they are reported.

  • Nitram

    Andy Mack

    I think people would be interested if the information was presented in an intelligent, interesting and informative way.

    As Tony says, rather than just one paragraph saying something along the lines of:

    ‘Those pesky foreigners are being looked at again for being corrupt. What are they like? Right enough about that, lets get on with the important stuff, talking of which, did you see Wenger’s been dithering again?’

    That seems to be about as deep as the main stream media goes.

    So yes, nobody SEEMS interested because it’s presented as uninteresting. Nobody sees it’s importance because it’s treated as unimportant.

    If they did something along the lines of what Untold try to do, and present the facts in an intelligent, linear way, and make it interesting, then people would be interested.

    But that’s what the media do isn’t it. They don’t report the news, they create the news to fit there agenda, and showing footballs very murky underbelly is not part of it.

  • Andy Mack

    Nitram, Yes I agree.
    But that still doesn’t make it an exclusive story (as is regularly suggested), just a slightly more ‘in depth’ story.
    I’m sure it would be a seriously ‘in depth’ story on untold, if the full details were available, whereas I doubt that would often be the case in the general media, but they do quite often mention these things 🙂

  • Oldham Gooner

    Ah, the quandaries of considering corruption and its quizzical correlations.

    Most media reports, exclusive or otherwise, in-depth or out of touch, are just articles that fit a set agenda, and make money 💵

    Reality is these issues aren’t covered as well in UK press outlets as they are in Europe. But then, I would like to speculate and say they are all buggers 😐

  • Brickfields Gunners

    After the prostate examination , the doctor left .
    The nurse soon comes in , and spoke those three words that any man would dread to hear ,
    “Who was that ?”

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