Spanish Football Federation

Spanish FA once again opposes La Liga match in U.S.

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For the second consecutive season, La Liga and Relevant Sports have proposed a league match to take place this winter in the U.S.

And once again, the La Liga proposal doesn’t have the support of its national soccer federation.

[READ: La Liga wants to move Villarreal-Atletico Madrid to Miami]

Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), told reporters on Thursday that it would oppose the match taking place outside of Spain’s borders, keeping a consistent line in the sand on how far globalization can go in soccer.

“It would disrupt the competition,” Rubiales said, via AS. “To play a game in Miami, La Liga needs permission from five bodies that it doesn’t have.”

The five bodies Rubiales referred to are the RFEF, FIFA, CONCACAF, U.S. Soccer and MLS.

Last time around, Relevant Sports and La Liga announced a long-term, lucrative marketing contract to expand the brand’s footprint in the Americas, and soon after, petitioned to move Girona’s home game against Barcelona to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, the home stadium of Relevant Sports owner Stephen Ross and his Miami Dolphins.

Ultimately, La Liga president Javier Tebas and Relevant Sports were unable to get permission from the RFEF or FIFA to hold the event outside Spain and it went off as expected in Girona. At the time, Spain’s player’s union and fans groups opposed the move. Tebas has filed a lawsuit in Spain to try to force the RFEF to approve their request, but it seems unlikely to be awarded and it surely doesn’t provide any good will between the two parties.

There’s been plenty of talk about bringing league games abroad before, but it has just been talk so far. The Premier League considered adding an extra game to the season to be played all over the world, but never went through with creating plans for matches.

Associations – not leagues, to be clear – have brought things like Super Cups abroad. For example, the RFEF moved the 2018 Spanish Super Cup to Tangiers, Morocco, while the France Football Federation has brought its national Super Cup match to both the U.S. and Montreal, Canada in recent years. However, the argument in favor of bringing those games abroad is they’re basically meaningless. Meanwhile, one result in a league season could – in theory – determine whether a team is relegated or not, especially if the margin is three points or less.

We could see another legal fight on our hands, so watch this space, there’s plenty more to come.

Spanish league sues federation over match in US

AP
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MADRID (AP) The Spanish league has taken legal action against the country’s soccer federation in an effort to get approval for a regular-season match in the United States.

A Madrid commercial court said Thursday the league filed a lawsuit accusing the Spanish soccer federation of unfair competition. The court said a decision is expected in two weeks, in time for the planned January match between Barcelona and Girona near Miami.

The league confirmed it brought the matter to court but did not provide further details about the legal action. It said it is expecting a decision in the coming days.

The Spanish federation did not immediately answer a request for comment.

The league has complained the federation opposes the game but at the same time wants to organize its own match abroad.

Before the league filed its suit earlier this month, the sports and entertainment group backing the league’s bid said it was contacted by the Spanish federation to discuss holding the Spanish Super Cup – a match between the league and cup champions – in the United States. The federation denied the claim, saying it was the Relevent group that had approached the federation with the idea, which it rejected.

Spanish league president Javier Tebas had said it was “scandalous” for the federation to offer the Super Cup to the same organization that has a partnership with the league for the match in the United States.

The league oversees the first and second divisions in Spain, while the federation organizes tournaments such as the Super Cup and the Copa del Rey. This year’s Super Cup was played between Barcelona and Sevilla in Tangier, Morocco.

The league needs approval from the federation to be able to play abroad, and the request was made months ago, but the federation has yet to approve or deny it. While asking for clarification about the plan, the federation argued the league failed to show the overseas game would comply with Spanish and international regulations and TV broadcast contracts. It also said the regular-season match away from Spain could harm the other 18 league clubs.

The FIFA Council recently opposed the match after receiving a request to take a stance from CONCACAF and the federations in the United States and Spain, which both have a say on whether the game can be played, along with European governing body UEFA. FIFA’s permission for the match is not mandatory.

The league said it is prepared to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if FIFA somehow prohibits the match.

The dispute has become a tug-of-war among the several stakeholders, with all sides trying to weigh-in and defend their ground.

The league’s idea to play games in the U.S. to promote its brand has been supported by many but has also been met by criticism from some fans and clubs in Spain. Staging the game is seen as an important step for the league to continue expanding internationally and to close the gap on the powerful English Premier League.

The league has a 15-year partnership with Relevent to promote soccer and bring games to the United States. The group operates the International Champions Cup, a tournament played around the globe during the European offseason in July and August.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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Police arrest Spanish soccer federation president and son

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MADRID (AP) Spanish Football Federation president Angel Maria Villar was arrested Tuesday along with his son and three more federation executives as part of an anti-corruption probe.

Spain’s Guardia Civil said in a statement that Villar, his son Gorka Villar, and three other soccer officials were detained while raids were carried out at the federation headquarters.

Villar is also a senior vice president of FIFA and senior vice president of UEFA.

Police said the other three men who were arrested were Juan Padron, the federation’s vice president of economic affairs, and the president and the secretary of the regional federation for Tenerife.

Police said the five men were arrested on charges of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents as part of a probe into the finances of the federations. The raids were carried out by the Guardia Civil’s anti-corruption unit as part of an operation called “SOULE.”

Inigo Mendez de Vigo, Spain’s minister of education, culture and sport, told national television moments after the raids that “in Spain the laws are enforced, the laws are the same for all, and nobody, nobody is above the law.”

UEFA said in a statement it is “aware of the reports regarding Mr. Villar Llona. We have no comment to make at this time.”

The 67-year-old Villar has been the head of Spain’s soccer federation since 1988, overseeing its national team’s victories in the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

Villar has also been at the heart of FIFA and UEFA politics since the 1990s, and has worked closely with several international soccer leaders who have since been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

His son, Gorka, worked in recent years for South American body CONMEBOL as legal director then the CEO-like director general for three presidents who were implicated in the American federal investigation. Gorka Villar left CONMERBOL in July 2016.

Angel Maria Villar was a tough midfielder for Athletic Bilbao and Spain before retiring to work as a lawyer and soccer administrator. He was elected to the UEFA executive committee 25 years ago, and FIFA’s ruling committee 19 years ago. He has also been an influential figure in the legal and referees committees of both organizations.

Increasingly seen as a polarizing figure with leadership ambitions, Villar decided against trying to succeed Michel Platini as UEFA president last year.

Before joining CONMEBOL, Gorka Villar was a prominent sports lawyer in Madrid. He helped represent cyclist Alberto Contador in a failed appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against losing the 2010 Tour de France title after a positive doping test.

Wilson reported from Barcelona. AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.

Barcelona asks court to act against Spanish league president

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona is asking a sports tribunal to consider sanctioning the Spanish federation and the president of the Spanish league after they condemned a goal celebration and accused players of provoking rival fans.

The club said Thursday it has formally requested the Administrative Court of Sport open disciplinary proceedings against Javier Tebas and members of the federation’s competition committee after their “unacceptable public declarations and assessments” about Barcelona players.

[ MORE: Spanish FF chastises Barcelona ]

The competition committee fined Valencia 1,500 euros ($1,600) on Wednesday after water bottles were thrown at Barcelona players celebrating a late winner in a Spanish league match on Saturday in Valencia.

It also condemned the attitude of the players by saying they shouldn’t have turned to the stands to celebrate and that they exaggerated after some of them were hit by one of the bottles. It said their actions exposed them to ridicule.

Barcelona said the committee “is not there to make assessments but rather to take disciplinary action, or not, in order to make an example of incidents that occur” on the pitch.

“Making statements regarding the actions of the players adds even more tension to a situation that must be deescalated,” Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said.

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Bartomeu also had harsh words for Tebas, who told Spanish media that he didn’t like the attitude of some Barcelona players, hinting that they provoked the fans during their celebration.

“The declarations made by Tebas are irresponsible and unbecoming of a sports executive,” Bartomeu said.

Barcelona’s next game is Saturday against last-place Granada at the Camp Nou.