The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) have been threatened with the suspension of their FIFA membership as a result of potential government interference. It would lead to the country being kicked out of the 2018 World Cup should they not heed FIFA’s severe warnings.
Government interference in national federations is outlawed by FIFA and is taken very seriously – as evidenced by the expulsion of Mali earlier this year after the west African country’s sports minister chose to dissolve the executive committee of national football federation.
Peru were threatened with similar only recently when a member of the country’s congress proposed that the national football federation be taken under the control of a government department.
El Pais explains that FIFA’s issue with Spain lies with potential or expected interference from a government body in the holding of an RFEF presidential election.
It seems that the government believes an election necessary following the July suspension of incumbent president Angel Maria Villar after his arrest on corruption charges. Juan Luis Larrea took over as an interim but is apparently keen to see the term through to completion in 2020.
EL Pais notes that the government wants a new election so as to formally bring an end to Villar’s rule and make a clean break from what is subsequently described as a ‘questionable’ regime.
It is, however, not their place to call or force an election and FIFA will be keeping a watchful eye.
Were Spain to have their FIFA membership suspended as a result of this, the national team could take no part in any officially recognised international matches, friendly or competitive. That means their place at the 2018 World Cup would be revoked if the issue isn’t resolved.
Although the chance of it happening are only small, Italy will surely be praying for FIFA to take action. It was ambitiously suggested that the Italians, who failed to qualify for the tournament in Russia next year, would get a reprieve if Peru got kicked out.
That was never likely to happen as Italy had no real claim. But should Spain fall, Italy would have a very strong case to take the empty spot as group runners-up to the Spanish in qualifying.