Villar appears before judge after arrest in corruption probe

MADRID (AP) The president of the Spanish Football Federation and his son appeared before a judge on Thursday, two days after being arrested in an anti-corruption probe.

Two other Spanish soccer officials who were also arrested in police raids on Tuesday will also stand before National Court judge Santiago Pedraz.

Angel Maria Villar, his son Gorka Villar, Juan Padron and Ramon Hernandez are accused by a state prosecutor of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents. Padron is the Spanish federation's vice president of economic affairs and also president of the Tenerife federation. Hernandez is the Tenerife federation's secretary.

A court spokesman said the Villars were placed in the court's jail after answering questions while Padron and Hernandez were testifying.

Judge Pedraz will decide whether the suspects remain in custody while the investigation continues, a spokesman for the National Court told The Associated Press. The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity in line with court policy.

Angel Maria Villar has been president of the Spanish federation for three decades. He is also FIFA's senior vice president and a vice president of UEFA.

On Tuesday, police said they suspect the elder Villar of having arranged matches for Spain that led to business deals benefiting his son, a sports lawyer who has worked for CONMEBOL under three presidents who were all implicated in corruption cases.

A former professional player, the 67-year-old Villar has been the head of Spain's soccer federation since 1988, overseeing the national team's victories in the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

Villar is a longtime powerbroker in soccer both inside and beyond Spain's borders, and he was singled out for questionable conduct in the 2014 FIFA report on the World Cup bidding process.

Two weeks ago, Villar answered a judge's questions as part of an investigation into accusations brought by Spain's Higher Council of Sports that his federation had committed fraud in the misappropriation of 1.8 million euros ($2 million) that was destined for humanitarian relief in Haiti. And in May, Villar's reelection for an eighth consecutive term was marred when the only rival candidate withdrew in protest for what he said were irregularities in the election of the federation's general assembly.

Villar has spent the last two nights in a Guardia Civil jail on the outskirts of Madrid, not far from the Spanish federation offices which were raided by police on Tuesday along with private properties and regional federation offices.

Spain's Higher Council of Sport has pledged to guarantee that the federation's areas of governance, which include the running of Spain's men's and women's national teams, the calendar of the club competitions, appointment of referees and the distribution of government aid for soccer, will not be harmed by the arrests.

''What the government is doing is taking control of the situation so that the normal functioning of sports is not affected,'' said Inigo Mendez de Vigo, Spain's minister of education, culture and sport.

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Wilson reported from Barcelona.

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