We have finally arrived at the point where it is clear that corruption has been systematically and organically grown within UEFA, and then thrust into FIFA, even though it has previously not been clear just how CONMEBOL figured into the entire equation.
The linchpin between UEFA and CONMEBOL corruption was through the aegis of former Spain FA (RFEF) President Angel Maria Villar, for the obvious reason that Spain and these South American countries shared the Spanish language and heritage.
Villar held the RFEF leadership in a stranglehold, beginning in 1988 all the way to his eventual disgraceful exit in 2017, close to 3 decades of absolute decadence in the way that has now become clear as the modus operandi of the lost generation of UEFA and FIFA leaders, which includes the likes of Sepp Blatter, Angel Maria Villar and the Argentine Julio Humberto Grondona.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino is a byproduct of the seeds sown by these cartoon characters of yore, and sadly he seeks to recreate the conditions that allowed these old men to loot football, likely unconvinced that he is living in his own time, an era whose young people will not tolerate this stupidity.
UEFA insiders repeatedly infer to the departure of Gianni Infantino as the turning point for the organization, and speak gleefully of the departure of his stalwarts and bootlickers from UEFA, to follow him for high level positions in FIFA.
In 2018, the former UEFA Legal Director Alasdair Bell shifted from Nyon to Zurich to take up the position of Deputy Secretary General of FIFA while at the same time, Emilio García Silvero was appointed as Director of FIFA’s Legal Division, therefore becoming FIFA Chief Legal Officer.
Before coming to UEFA, Emilio Garcia had moonlighted as the Chief Legal Counsel for the Spanish FA (RFEF) and had even been called as a character witness for Angel Maria Villar in a case where he (Villar) is known to have embezzled €1.2 million from the RFEF.
Apparently this money had been pilfered from Spanish FA accounts under the pretext that they were to grease the machinery that would award the 2018 FIFA World Cup to the joint Spain-Portugal bid, and which was later controversially won by Russia.
Out of this €1.2 million, a whopping €220,000 had been earmarked and said to have been transferred to Haiti for the reconstruction of a soccer academy that had been decimated in the horrendous earthquake that hit the island nation, an academy that ultimately never broke ground.
Eventually, Angel Maria Villar was compelled by Spanish law (after his arrest in 2017) to repay RFEF the entire €1.2 million plus an additional €300,000 in interest.
But the above case is pretty tame when compared to another caper executed by Villar and his sidekicks, where they moved funds from the Federation to the tune of €24 million on the pretext that they were constructing a soccer academy in Saudi Arabia, which also never commenced and in reality represents a “ghost project”.
In an additional burst of impunity-fueled adrenalin, the RFEF managers would charge their private trips with girlfriends and mistresses to the accounts of the Federation.
In hindsight, it was to be expected of Villar, who had also been a UEFA Vice-President since 1992 and a FIFA Vice President since 2002, he also headed both the referees committees of UEFA and FIFA post-2002.
In November 2015, Villar was fined CHF 25,000 and issued a warning by the FIFA ethics committee for failure to cooperate with the investigation into the bribery surrounding the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
That should surely have been the harbinger to this old man that his gig was up, but just like Grondona, he believed in relinquishing his post only by death.
Villar would tactfully place his own people in key positions within UEFA, FIFA and CAS in one of the most brazen acts of nepotism and cronyism.
For instance, the CV for Emilio Garcia Silvero reads that … “Superior Performance in Fenerbahçe and Sivas Cases”, which implies the UEFA bans of the Turkish clubs from its competitions, for breach of competition rules and match-fixing.
Oddly, Emilio Silvero was apparently never part of the UEFA disciplinary panel that looked into these Turkish club issues, but the panel was chaired by another Spaniard – Miguel Liétard Fernández-Palacios.
Could Emilio Garcia Silvero have implied in his CV that he held the reins of this process from beginning to its fruition, as a puppeteer does a marionette?
Fernandez-Palacios was highly vilified in the Turkish press for this 2013 ruling, especially for being a newly appointed UEFA disciplinary instructor who was somehow appointed judge, to review and sanction the alleged irregularities of the Turkish club Fenerbahce, who had allegedly rigged matches.
The Turkish club was scandalized, first by the lack of experience of the Spanish judge, the young lawyer had by then only just graduated a few years earlier in 2008, and also by his demeanor. The club claimed in the Turkish press that Fernández-Palacios came into this matter with blinkered eyes and showed clear partiality and open predisposition to the sanction from the get-go.
UEFA sources however feel that, in reality, the sanction against the Turkish teams – quite common in the Champions League – was part of a cold war between UEFA Vice-President Ángel María Villar and President Michel Platini.
Apparently both men had agreed on who would run for president of UEFA on one hand and FIFA on the other, but Platini seemed to have breached some end of this gentleman’s agreement.
Platini eventually had to resign after being accused of corruption while Villar took over the UEFA presidency afterwards, albeit temporarily.
Angel Maria Villar and his son Gorka Villar would take associates from his son’s law firm – Sports Advisers SL – and thrust them into key positions within UEFA and CAS.
One of these associates was the much-maligned Fernández-Palacios, a 28 year-old graduate with a master’s degree obtained from the University of Lleida in 2013, who had been made one of the 15 UEFA disciplinary inspectors, a number that had been mysteriously inflated from the previous 8 members, in order to obscure the obvious conflict of interest and nepotism in the appointment, and likely also to give various other members of the UEFA Exco an opportunity to also insert names of their own preferred choices.
Another associate of Gorka Villar was Reyes Bellver, a young lawyer with Sevillian roots at just 32 years old, and who was given a place in UEFA’s elite female leadership program. For this she must have had a letter of recommendation from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) chaired by her boss’s father, Ángel María Villar.
Bellver had represented Spanish cyclist, twice Tour De France and Giro d’Italia winner, Alberto Contador at the CAS in a doping case. She is daughter of a former vice president of Real Betis Balompié. At the same time, she chaired a Más Betis association and also the Madrid Sports Law Association.
Gorka Villar’s third friend, Mauricio Chiriboga – the son of the disgraced former president of the Ecuador Football Federation – is an arbitrator for the CAS, the world’s highest court of sports arbitration.
Mauricio Chiriboga was not with Sport Advisers SL, but he had been an important friend of Gorka Villar, and had developed part of his career as a lawyer and businessman in Latin America, always linked to soccer. He was Fernández-Palacios school-mate in the master’s degree program at the University of Lleida.
His tender age was never an obstacle for him to take up his role at CAS from 2015 as an arbitrator.
Gorka Villar’s law firm is frequently before the CAS in the defense of the interests of athletes, among whom the best known client has undoubtedly been cyclist Alberto Contador.
So you can understand former UEFA President Michel Platini when he told the newspaper www.illustre.ch that “ as numerous press articles have revealed, it seems that Gianni Infantino skillfully combined, at the beginning of summer 2015, to ensure that I was excluded from the race for the presidency of FIFA, by behind-the-scenes ad hoc agreements between the Attorney General of the Confederation Michael Lauber, his spokesman Marty, the chief prosecutor Olivier Thormann, the head of the FIFA legal service Marco Villiger, childhood friend of Infantino, the Valais prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold, and all with the help of Zurich lawyer Michele Bernasconi”
Bernasconi is a top arbitrator with the CAS, inserted there due to his work with Infantino during his days at UEFA.
Now extrapolate this scenario of how arbitrators at CAS are selected and appointed, plus the undeniable fact that FIFA funds the courts substantially, you begin to see that majority of the decisions of CAS are rigged ab initio.
By the time Angel Maria Villar was arrested in July 2017, conservative estimates indicate that he had embezzled in excess of €100million, money that he and his son Gorka placed in a fund that they would then use to buy and peddle influence in the World of football.
It reminds us of the unholy father-son alliances between a former Trinidad and Tobago FA President Jack Warner and his sons Daryll and Daryan Warner in his corruption capers.
Or former IAAF President Lamine Diack and one of his sons, Papa Massata Diack, who are on trial for corruption, money laundering and breach of trust charges.
Angel Maria Villars though, would never “eat” alone and used this slush fund to grease many hands over the years, and this influence has allowed Villar to escape tens of criminal investigations and convictions over the years,
His son Gorka Villar, has used the company Sport Advisers SL, a law firm domiciled on Calle Serrano in Madrid, next to Plaza de Colón, for allegedly criminal businesses. This law firm has specialized in sports rights and has had millions in revenues in recent years, without employees.
The closest thing to employees are the two attorneys listed as the company’s “team.” Its corporate purpose is supposedly “to mediate, coordinate, organize and carry out advisory, representation and defense and management services in legal matters”, founded in December 2010. This office is under investigation by the Central Operational Unit (UCO) of the Civil Guard and the judge of the National Court.
Between 2011 and 2013 Sports Advisers SL, with only two lawyers, billed about € 2.5 million. The Civil Guard relates a lot of this money it to the alleged fraudulent collection of commissions and services for friendly matches by the Spanish soccer team.
Santa Monica Sports, a television rights company that was controlled by businessman Jesús Samper, and which is in bankruptcy today, would also have been part of this elaborate plot.
The Law firm Sport Advisers SL was so profitable that a few years ago it allowed Gorka Villar to buy a penthouse in the heart of the affluent Barrio de Salamanca in Madrid, on Calle Mártires Concepcionistas, worth more than 600,000 euros.
But that is not where the purchase of prime real estate ends, the Villars had been stocking their cash assets in Switzerland, a country regularly referred to as a banana republic even by its own citizens, because they knew they were being followed by strict police units in their own country Spain. However, the police team that conducted the operation discovered an interesting method they used to acquire assets both in Spain and in Switzerland … buying real estate
They buy real estate with loans of 10-15 years term which they then repay for a certain period of time and then pay-off and close the account, one such scheme was on Madrid’s Calle de Alcalá, a luxury penthouse number 167 which had been taken in installments for 180 months (15 years) at a cost of approximately €700,000 but which was never mentioned in the criminal cases, based on this technicality.
The Villars likely may have already paid 1-2 years of installment on the apartment where their law firm SPORT ADVISERS SL is domiciled, the firm that had been established on December 2010 at this same address, Calle de Alcalá, 167 Madrid, supposedly to provide consultancy services in the field of sports law.
On July 18, 2017, the Police raided the headquarters of the RFEF with an arrest warrant signed by judge Santiago Pedraz, who had ordered a total of 4 people to be arrested, together with Angel Villar and to search for their homes and businesses.
The other 3 were his son Gorka, RFEF Vice-President Juan Padrón Morales and the Canary Islands Regional federation secretary general, Ramón Hernández Baussou.
But this was not all, Gorka Villar, was involved in South American football as the general director of CONMEBOL between 2014 and 2016.
Various scandals during Gorka Villar’s time in CONMEBOL drew him out of his comfortable shell of anonymity. The most notorious of those emerged in September 2015, when eight Uruguayan clubs, including giants Peñarol, accused him of extorting money from them to force them to withdraw a complaint against CONMEBOL. Those clubs had accused CONMEBOL of selling the television rights for the Copa Libertadores for a ridiculously low amount.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino, whilst serving in UEFA had signed a similar contract with the father-son duo of Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis, his son, who acquired the TV rights on behalf of an Argentine company named Cross Trading and then sold them on for almost three times the price to Ecuadorian broadcaster Teleamazonas.
It is impossible to fathom the extent of the crookedness and scandalous deals that transpired between UEFA and CONMEBOL at the time when Infantino and Gorka headed both organizations respectively.
Gorka worked alongside his father in the campaign for the 2004 Spanish FA presidential elections. Ángel María emerged victorious over Gerardo González Otero, but it was one of the most difficult re-elections he had ever participated in.
Gorka gained further influence around the time that Spain won the 2008 European Championship to commence a Golden Era of Spanish football. With his father re-elected without opposition, he assumed an unspecified but active role in the organisation of Spanish National team friendly matches.
Gorka Villar facilitated the match between South Korea and Spain in the lead-up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. That is one of the matches under investigation for which he had been arrested.
On January 18, 2016, former goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert was asked to analyze the situation of CONMEBOL (or CSF), the Association that looks after national teams from the 10 South American countries. The Paraguayan criticized the general director of the CSF, Gorka Villar, son of the president of the RFEF.
“Gorka is the brain of the corrupt Mafia who has ruled South American football,” the former keeper said to Radio MARCA. “He is the greatest scoundrel of all this, an accomplice in all the cases of corruption that have been going on for years.
“All that dirty money, he has grabbed it.”
All in all, there were over 100 contracts signed between Gorka Villar and the Federations from Oceania and CONMEBOL plus Spanish speaking Mexico.
By 2015 after FIFAgate, it was clear that Angel Maria Villars position was no longer tenable considering he was also under investigation.
Still angry that he had been slighted by Michel Platini on the Blatter succession agreement, he threw his weight behind Gianni Infantino, a man that he had groomed and who was partial to corruption to take up the FIFA seat.
Villar was the man who showed Infantino that he could do it, that he could rise from the obscurity of UEFA and rise to the most powerful seat in football.
It is also the reason that Infantino has absolutely no qualms bringing over Emilio Garcia Silvero from UEFA and giving him the position of Chief Legal Counsel, because they are all cut from the same irredeemably corrupt cloth.
So you can therefore imagine just how corrupt the entire footballing landscape really is considering that corrupt FIFA Exco members would insert their cronies in key management positions at UEFA, FIFA and CAS, some of whom have been rising steadily within the ranks of these organizations and currently act as sleeper agents for those who inherited those corruption networks.
Infantino understood this perfectly and he has therefore become the de facto owner of these corruption networks. This means that UEFA and CONMEBOL, in their new tangent to re-calibrate their organizations, need to carry out their version of the Salem witch-hunt, to weed out all these elements.
World football certainly is in a deep hole from which it needs to work doubly hard to crawl out from.