MADRID: Angel Maria Villar, suspended president of the Spanish federation, has warned that FIFA means business in threatening to expel the national team from next year’s World Cup over a state inteference issue writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The former Athletic Bilbao and Spain midfielder, who has headed the Spanish federation for almost three decades, was also a senior vice-president of the world federation and of European  governing body UEFA when he was arrested on corruption charges in July.

He was then suspended from all public body office for a year by the national sports council, plunging into the RFEF into confusion over how and when to resolve its leadership issues.

Acting president Juan Luis Larrea discussed the crisis with FIFA leaders when he attended the World Cup draw in Moscow at the start of the month. FIFA subsequently warned that the role of the CSD contravened its statutes about government interference.

Villar pointed up the dangers at a rare press conference for a man notable for avoiding the media whenever possible.

He said: “FIFA is only enforcing its statutory regulations which insist on the independence of the operation of national federations.” The CSD had overstepped its powers by suspending him while he was in detention “without listening to me, because I was in prison at the time.”

To underscore the danger of Spain’s World Cup expulsion, Villar recalled the 1992 European Championship when Denmark were called up at the last minute after the suspension of the former Yugoslavia on security grounds.

He added: “There are countries like Italy that are on the lookout for any opportunity to occupy a place that might come free.”

Villar went on to criticise the opposition to him from former Sports Minister Miguel Cardenal, his long-time enemy Javier Tebas, president of the Spanish league and former RFEF secretary-general Jorge Pérez.

On behalf of himself, former treasurer Juan Padron and his son Gorka Villar, he added: “We are innocent, we have not done anything [but] there are people who want me beheaded. They are lynch mobs.”