FIFA VP Villar warned, fined $25K in World Cup bid case
GENEVA (AP) FIFA vice president Angel Maria Villar was warned and fined 25,000 Swiss francs ($25,000) Friday for misconduct during the 2018-2022 World Cup bid investigation.
The light sanctions from the FIFA ethics committee end a case which last year had potential to bring a more severe verdict on Villar, who is the No. 2 elected UEFA official behind President Michel Platini.
The punishment was for an ''indecent'' remark during a one-hour interview with then-FIFA prosecutor Michael Garcia, the Spanish soccer federation said in a statement.
Villar, the longtime federation president, said something similar to ''He's got a nerve'' in his native language, according to the Spanish body.
''(Villar) regrets that oral expressions made by him have been perceived differently by some members of the FIFA ethics committee,'' the federation said, adding he believed that ''at no time he behaved in an indecent manner or breached any other provision of the FIFA Code of Ethics.''
Villar, a lawyer who chairs the FIFA legal committee, at first refused to cooperate with Garcia. He then tried within FIFA to have the former U.S. Attorney thrown off a case which many saw as key to FIFA's credibility.
The Spanish soccer federation president ''failed to behave in accordance with the general rules of conduct,'' during Garcia's investigation, the FIFA ethics panel said in a statement.
FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert imposed a lighter sanction because Villar later ''demonstrated a willingness to cooperate.''
Villar was previously suspected of orchestrating a rule-breaking voting pact between the Spain-Portugal bid to host the 2018 World Cup and 2022 winner Qatar.
A brief probe by FIFA's previous ethics committee dismissed that claim in 2010.
Still, Garcia's investigation was expected to go deeper into the alleged seven-vote pact which FIFA President Sepp Blatter later acknowledged did exist.
Villar's light sanction could mean that Franz Beckenbauer, a former FIFA executive committee member who took part in the December 2010 votes, will also escape a ban.
Beckenbauer's pending case also involves allegations of initially refusing to cooperate with Garcia.
In a separate case, the ethics panel also imposed six-month bans on Congolese officials Jean Guy Mayolas and Badji Wantete for misconduct during the FIFA congress in May.
Their offenses related to ''offering and accepting gifts and other benefits,'' the ethics committee said.
Both officials have 45 days left to serve after their provisional suspensions imposed in June.