Could Spain be kicked out of the Fifa 2018 World Cup?

Political involvement in the sport means Spain’s participation in Russia could be under threat

Spain Fifa 2018 World Cup
Spain secured their 2018 World Cup place after finishing top of Group G in European qualification
(Image credit: Jose Jordan/AFP/Getty Images)

Spain could be banned by Fifa from the 2018 World Cup because of “interference” from the Spanish government, a former federation official has warned.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) is in the process of electing a new president and because of the government’s interference in the matter Fifa rules are at risk of being broken.

Confirmed to Spanish news agency EFE and reported by ESPN, Fifa has sent a letter to the RFEF regarding the federation’s independence.

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According to Fifa rules, as stated in article 14 and 19, federations and its members have a duty to “manage their affairs independently and ensure that their own affairs are not influenced by any third parties”.

If the RFEF fails to heed Fifa’s warnings, the federation could be suspended and its national team banned.

Former RFEF president Angel Maria Villar, who is currently suspended and awaiting trial for charges of corruption, warned the Spanish government that the team could be replaced in Russia next year.

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Speaking to a news conference, Villar said: “The only ones responsible for the possibility that the national team could miss out on the World Cup is the current government.

“No one wants this, least of all me, but there are other national teams like Italy that missed out on the World Cup that will jump at the chance to take a World Cup spot [should Spain be banned].”

The 67-year-old resigned as vice-president of both Fifa and Uefa earlier this year after being suspended by the Consejo Superio de Deportes (CSD) – Spain’s top sports authority. Villar added: “The only thing Fifa is doing is making sure one of its members complies with the statutes and its regulations.

“Fifa is only following rules. The Spanish Sports Council [CSD] is making the RFEF non-compliant with those Fifa rules and regulations.”

Meanwhile, acting RFEF president Juan Luis Larrea has hit back at Villar’s claims, insisting Spain will not be kicked out of the World Cup. Larrea confirmed that talks between the RFEF and Fifa will take place after Christmas.

Larrea told Marca: “The meeting will be informative and, in no case, punitive. No one is going to take Spain out of the World Cup.

“It’s impossible and never been talked about. It’s the final straw when people say things like that. It won’t happen.

“What do these people want: that Spain are withdrawn from the tournament so Italy can get in? The federation is functioning normally, the national team earned their place on the pitch, and FIFA agree with us on that.”

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