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Spain can learn lessons from events in Argentina


Let's take a look at what went on in Argentina, for the lessons it might bring. When Julio Grondona died (that's not the case of Ángel María Villar, fortunately) after 30 years as president of the country's football federation (that is, more or less, the case of Villar, who has been there for 29), a wholly unedifying episode ensued. The administrators Grondona left behind sued each other, attacked each other, established alliances with each other and generously bribed each other. There were 75 of them. The vote for Grondona's successor yielded a tie between the two candidates: 38 votes each. Which, you don't need me to tell you, doesn't go into 75. The government intervened, Fifa made its presence felt with a salvo of warnings, and it all ended up with the two agreeing on the appointment of a 'normalisation committee'.

It's a case I bring to the table for the use it might be to us in Spain. Our government has got itself into an unnecessary mess, I think. When Villar was imprisoned, Fifa said nothing. Likewise when he was suspended. A process by which Juan Luis Larrea took over his responsiblities worked, after a fashion. Then there was the motion of no-confidence by ex-players' union head Luis Rubiales, which he announced a while back and presented yesterday. What doesn't fit in that logical sequence is the National Sports Council asking for a review of the Spanish Disciplinary Committee for Sports' ruling that the last elections won by Villar were valid, and the case being passed on to the Council of State. To Fifa, that sounds rather like political interference, and it's hard to argue with them.

Getting back to the Argentinian precedent (which, incidentally, is by no means the only one; something similar also happened in Greece), it'd be best if the government could agree on a way out of this muddle with Fifa. Secretary of state for sport José Ramón Lete argues, justifiably, that the 'Operación Soule' investigation has brought to light an intolerable network of interests. But would fresh elections, with the same regional chiefs in place, change the composition of, and the corruption in, the assembly? It'd be better to identify the corrupt individuals, who, if not all of them, are many in number, remove them and get the federation cleaned up. But all that must be done with Fifa, like in Argentina; because, as former Real Madrid coach Vujadin Boskov used to say, football is football.