Former Spanish players’ leader is new federation chief

MADRID (AP) The former head of Spain’s players’ association will lead the national federation for the next two years, taking over the presidency formerly in the hands of embattled official Angel Maria Villar for nearly three decades.

Luis Rubiales was elected president on Thursday after an 80-56 vote over Juan Luis Larrea, the federation’s former treasurer and its interim chief since Villar – a former FIFA and UEFA vice president – was suspended following his arrest last year on suspicion of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

The 40-year-old Rubiales, a lawyer and a former defender for Levante and Alicante, will be the 26th president of the federation.

He was head of the Association of Spanish Footballers from 2010-17, when he quit to run for the federation’s presidency. He was also a member of the federation’s board of directors and was a sports director at the organisation.

Rubiales promised to learn from past mistakes and improve the federation while maintaining transparency.

The federation said Rubiales ”has ample knowledge on the football world, from the playing field to management.”

The election came four days before national coach Julen Lopetegui announces Spain’s squad for the World Cup in Russia.