A week on Monday, on 9 April, the Spanish Football Federation will finally hold elections to choose a new president, and Ángel María Villar will be just a bad memory. Getting this far hasn't been easy. Villar's capacity for survival was such that only the Civil Guard were able to prise him from his throne, just as he savoured his umpteenth re-election after winning out in his conflict with the previous secretary of state for sport, Miguel Cardenal. The sports minister, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, who clearly hadn't grasped what he was dealing with, had come up with the naive notion of engineering an honourable exit for Villar. So Cardenal fell, and out came the red carpet for Villar to win fresh presidential elections last May. After that, the plan was that he'd step aside for Luis Rubiales midway through his term.
Sports minister's plan didn't quite go as he'd hoped...
That didn't quite work out, it's fair to say. So much so that, after Villar was arrested and details of the wiretaps emerged (they were basically a neat, audio-book account of all that stank about his tenure), the Spanish government sought to revoke the vote held in April to elect the members of the Federation's assembly; the same assembly it had previously given its blessing to in its determination to secure said honourable exit. And, by doing so, it bungled again. Fifa's ears pricked up and, though chests were swiftly puffed out in Madrid, when the world governing body's secretary general, Fatma Samoura, paid us a visit, the Council of State miraculously changed its tune: suddenly there was nothing wrong with the assembly. So it is those same members who will now choose between Rubiales and Juan Luis Larrea.
Larrea-Rubiales vote likely to be very close
The candidates' campaigns are now being stepped up and, in today's edition of AS's Spanish-language version, they both outline their visions in interviews with Marco Ruiz. Between now and the 9th, we'll keep you up to date on the latest developments. Larrea, who worked with Villar for years, and managed the coffers - a delicate issue, that - has been in interim charge for some months, and, in truth, has fulfilled the role with prudence and acumen. Rubiales has shown a steady hand as head of Spain's players' union, albeit with the odd display of hardline tendencies that we could have done without. Part of the Federation since 2010, he's not only up against Larrea, but also LaLiga chief Javier Tebas, who has declared him the enemy. 139 asambleístas will cast their ballot. It's set to be very tight.