Spanish soccer federation president under pressure at home

MADRID (AP) The president of the Spanish football federation is being urged by some of his country’s leading sports figures to talk openly about the corruption investigations facing FIFA.

Angel Maria Villar, a member of FIFA’s executive committee and the highest-ranking vice president at UEFA, has yet to make any wide-ranging comment on events that have rocked the world soccer’s governing body.

Miguel Cardenal, president of the Spanish government’s higher sports council said Wednesday that ”these corruption practices demand an immediate response,” adding that it would be good for Villar to come forward with what he knows.

Spanish league president Javier Tebas said that Villar ”is either very smart or very stupid” for not suspecting there was something wrong happening around him.

Cardenal said people are wondering whether Villar, who’s also a FIFA vice president, knew anything about the corruption problems at the governing body.

”He is the one who has to explain it,” Cardenal said in an interview with Spanish TV channel Telemadrid.

”It would be good to do it, because a lot of people want to hear these explanations. In the past he expressed his support to other executive committee members, assuring that there were no suspicions about their honor, and time showed that his assessment was wrong. So he is the one who has to talk about this.”

FIFA’s ethics committee last week imposed a provisional 90-day ban on UEFA President Michel Platini, a FIFA vice president, after a payment he received from the world governing body became part of a Swiss criminal investigation. FIFA President Sepp Blatter also was banned for 90 days. Both Platini and Blatter have appealed their suspensions.

Although FIFA quickly named Issa Hayatou as an acting president to replace Blatter, UEFA did not immediately elevate Villar – its most senior vice president – to temporarily fill Platini’s job.

Villar, who has been a FIFA executive member since 1998, remains at risk of sanctions himself from a separate investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

There are two separate U.S. and Swiss investigations into corruption in world soccer.

”It worries me that the federation president has been there for so long and didn’t know anything,” Tebas said. ”He is either very smart or very stupid not to know what was happening around him.”

Tebas has been a longtime critic of Villar and on several occasions has called for him to step down as president of the federation.

The 65-year-old Villar has led the Spanish federation since 1988.

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