Spain Faces Critical Decision As Suspension Looms for Top Candidate to Lead Football Federation

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On Tuesday, Spain’s government announced its intention to consider suspending the leading candidate to head the country’s football federation (RFEF) amid efforts to reform an organization embroiled in a corruption scandal.

Jose Manuel Rodriguez Uribes, president of the state-run Superior Council of Sport (CSD), stated during a parliamentary hearing that a meeting of the CSD board had been convened following the opening of a case by Spain’s sports tribunal TAD against Pedro Rocha and the RFEF’s leadership for alleged “very serious misconduct.”

Additionally, a criminal court judge initiated a separate investigation into suspected corruption within the federation.

Expressing concern to FIFA, Uribes emphasized a commitment to implementing measures to prevent future reputational crises. Spain aims to address a series of scandals within the RFEF as it prepares to co-host the 2030 World Cup.

Rocha, previously serving as the RFEF’s interim president and seeking permanent appointment, came under judicial scrutiny after providing testimony as a witness.

Despite being the sole candidate to succeed the disgraced former head, Luis Rubiales, Rocha’s candidacy faces uncertainty amidst ongoing investigations. The RFEF clarified that the TAD case pertains to potential breaches of duties following Rubiales’ resignation, distinct from the corruption probe.

“All decisions have been taken with the utmost caution and respect, given the interim situation in which the institution found itself,” it said.

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The RFEF’s leadership criticized the TAD proceedings, alleging inaccuracies and lack of rigor, and stated their intention to explore legal recourse.

The federation’s former head, Rubiales, along with colleagues, has been under investigation since June 2022 regarding a potential deal with Gerard Pique’s Kosmos firm to move the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia, valued at approximately 120 million euros ($129 million).

Pedro Rocha, who served as vice president of the federation under Rubiales and chaired the financial board during the signing of the Saudi Super Cup deal, faces scrutiny in the ongoing investigation.

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In response to the TAD case, Rocha’s office declared their intent to contest the irregularities alleged in the proceedings.

“The accusation, which is totally surprising and defies all logic and legal sense, is that he has exceeded the powers conferred on him with regard to a series of decisions that he had to take as acting president for the good of the game,” his office said.

In response to recent events, including police raids at the RFEF resulting in the dismissal of two executives, FIFA and UEFA have requested comprehensive updates on the corruption investigation.

Uribes confirmed that the government is actively pursuing reforms in sports legislation, aiming to establish a robust sanctioning system. Additionally, plans are underway to appoint an ethics committee and an ombudsman to advocate for the rights of athletes.

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