FIFA meets with Spanish officials to discuss govt. meddling

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, right, meets with Spain's Sports Minister Ínigo Mendez de Vigo, in Madrid, Spain, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. A FIFA delegation led by Samoura has met with Spanish officials on Monday to discuss concerns about government meddling in the local soccer federation. A suspension of the Spanish federation could potentially lead to the national team's exclusion from the upcoming World Cup in Russia. (AP Photo/Paul White)

A FIFA delegation led by secretary general Fatma Samoura met with Spanish officials on Monday to discuss concerns about government meddling in the local soccer federation

MADRID — FIFA and Spanish officials are calling for a quick resolution to the problems involving Spain's soccer federation, but there are no warnings of an imminent suspension that could jeopardize the national team's participation in the World Cup.

A FIFA delegation led by secretary general Fatma Samoura met with local officials on Monday in a "spirit of full cooperation" to discuss concerns about government meddling in the federation.

Officials did not release detailed information about what was discussed. FIFA said it wanted to go to Madrid to "observe and analyze the situation" at the federation.

"Both delegations agreed on the need for (the situation) to be resolved as speedily as possible and through established legal channels, all with a view to safeguarding the interests of Spanish football and respect for the regulations, transparency, and good governance," the participants said in a joint statement.

Last year, FIFA sent a letter reminding Spanish soccer officials that all member federations must manage their affairs independently and without interference from third parties. The warning reportedly came because of the government's push to hold elections following the arrest of federation president Angel Maria Villar on suspicion of corruption.

Among those at Monday's meeting were Jose Ramon Lete, president of Spain's Higher Council of Sports, Inigo Mendez de Vigo, Spain's minister for education, culture and sports, and Juan Luis Larrea, the leader of the federation.

"Those present also recognized the work carried out by the (federation) in ensuring that Spanish football is continuing to operate (normally)," the statement said.

Spanish police arrested Villar, his son and two other soccer officials in July on suspicion of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption, and falsifying documents.

After being suspended and eventually removed from the federation's presidency, Villar blamed the government for meddling with federation affairs.

A suspension of the Spanish federation could potentially lead to the national team's exclusion from the World Cup in Russia.

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