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Ángel Villar and the art of staying

Regular elections will not be held in 2016

The President of the Spanish Football Federation (FEF) Ángel Maria Villar led the General Assembly in a game of yes and no. The idea was to hand responsibility for calling elections to the Dispute Tribunal. And that was done. But no elections were called. And when it came down to it there was no united front to resist. Only 125 out of 180 members attended the Assembly. The absence of the clubs was particularly noticeable; just four presidents – Enrique Cerezo (Atlético Madrid), Jose Castro (Sevilla) Josu Urrutia (Athletic Bilbao) and Amaia Gorostiza (Eibar) – of the 22 member clubs took part.

Villar under fire

Villar is running out of steam, and it shows. He still has the backing of Alejandro Blanco (President of the Spanish Olympic Committee) and Luis Rubiales (President of the Spanish Players’ Association), both important figures, but his failed attempt to take the top job at UEFA has taken its toll on him. He’s also been worn down by being constantly at odds with the Spanish government, above all with the Secretary of State for Sport and former ally Miguel Cardenal. Villar appears to be confident that when Cardenal leaves office, which will happen when a new government is formed (something that seems closer than ever after almost a year of political uncertainty and two inconclusive elections), things will be different. If they aren’t, he will look to the ‘new FIFA’ to back him up, as Blatter did on one occasion, when he squared off with former Sports Minister Jaime Lissavetzky.

Villar during yesterday's Assembly meeting

Secretary General Jorge Pérez relieved of his duties

In the meantime, he stays on. He won the last election during a changeover in the office of Sports Minister in the final stages of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s time as Prime Minister. That was almost five years ago. He’s been in his position for 28 years. He could teach a Master’s in how to stay in a job in some of the best universities in the world. He’s admirable in that sense and I say that without a hint of irony. And to make the Assembly useful in the meantime he humiliated Jorge Pérez, yesterday sacking his likely opponent in the upcoming elections from his post as the Federation’s Secretary General.