ZURICH/MADRID: Spain must confront the – distant – threat of World Cup exclusion by FIFA over the governance confusion which followed the suspension of Angel Villar, the federation’s veteran president.

Villar was removed from office by the National Sports Council after being arrested on corruption charges, prompting concerns in the world federation about political interference.

FIFA has written to the RFEF observing that governmental involvement in the next presidential election could lead to a suspension which would have the effect of removing the national team from next year’s World Cup finals in Russia. Interim president is Juan Luis Larrea.

A FIFA statement said: “We can confirm that FIFA recently sent a letter to the RFEF showing its concern with the situation the federation is in and reminding it that… all member associations should manage their affairs independently.

“All associations must be assured that there is no outside interference from third parties in its internal affairs. FIFA is in contact with the RFEF and in the next few weeks a delegation of FIFA and UEFA members will travel to Madrid to analyse the situation the RFEF is in.”

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that FIFA’s concerns centre around the government’s sports department pushing to hold new federation elections.

A statement from the RFEF said its president Larrea had discussed the situation with FIFA members at the World Cup draw im Moscow on December 1.

It added: ”The RFEF passed on these (FIFA‘s) concerns to the minister for sport and is expecting to organise a meeting on the matter. The RFEF wants everything to return to normal, that has always been the main objective of the current board of directors.

“We underline that we all want the national team to participate in the 2018 World Cup, especially after its brilliant qualifying campaign.”

Spain won the World Cup for the first time in 2010 and will be one of the favourites in Russia.