KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: Angel Villar has been assailed as yesterday’s man who should step aside not only as head of the Spanish football federation but from his roles as a vice-president of FIFA and UEFA.
Villar is the former Bilbao and Spain midfielder who has commanded the RFEF for the past 26 years; he is also one of the most senior figures within the power structures of the world and European federations.
He is also known as one of the most conservative members of the FIFA executive committee and an opponent of the recent reform attempts and ethics investigations.
But he met his match earlier this year in Javier Tebas, head of the Spanish league, who forced Villar into retreat the LaLiga’s introduction of a system for the centralised sale of television rights.
There is no love lost between the two men, as Tebas illustrated in his assessment at the Leaders Sports Business Summit of Villar and his old generation of officialdom.
Tebas, asked about the need for change within the FEF, said: “I definitely think there should be changes but there should have been changes five years ago. The continuity of the chairman of the Spanish federation damages Spanish football.
“Spanish football – and world football as well – need people who understand the business of football.
“For example, 35 years ago we had black-and-white television so we watched the World Cup in black-and-white. Now think how TV has developed first with colour ad hd and now we even watch it on our phones.
“But, if you could look back 35 years ago, at the people in the directors’ box, and then look at the directors’ box today in high definition colour, you will see the same people sitting there.
“These are people who have not developed or adapted to the business of football.”
The Spanish game at large should be warned, according to Tebas, that “if these football leaders are not changed then there is a grave risk to the business of football – and this applies to Senor Villar as well.”
Tebas was dismissive of concerns raised about whether the rising ride of independence in Catalonia would put at risk the status of European champions Barcelona within the Spanish game.
His personal opinion was that Spain without Catalonia was inconceivable and, in any case, laws prevented the secession of any region without a national vote. Even the recent unofficial referendum in Catalonia did not produce a majority in favour of independence.
Tebas, now speaking formally as president of the league, added: “In the ‘impossible’ case of a unilateral secession Spanish law does not allow clubs from other countries to play in its league, apart from Andorra whose clubs play in the Spanish league.
“So, in this ‘impossible’ situation there would have been an agreement so you can be sure we will have Real Madrid v Barcelona for many years to come.”
# # # #