Spanish Soccer Chief Drops Executive Expenses Complaint

The president of the Spanish soccer league dropped a complaint against national team executives for charging the travel expenses of their wives or partners to the national federation.

Auditors found that five federation officials including FIFA Vice President Angel Maria Villar began to charge the expenses of their partners to the organization at the end of 2002, according to court papers.

Javier Tebas withdrew the complaint from a Madrid court to make his work easier after becoming president of the league on April 26, he said in an e-mail today. He had been a league vice president.

The league, which is also known as “La Liga,” organizes the top championship in Spain that includes Real Madrid and Barcelona. It regularly negotiates with the Spanish federation, which oversees the national team, over issues including the dates of matches.

The court was investigating whether Villar and the four other executives had committed a crime. The case was formally dropped April 29, according to court documents. Public prosecutors had already asked for the case to be withdrawn, according to the documents.

When the details of the case were reported by the media, some of the executives being investigated began to pay for the travel expenses in a “hurried and disorderly” manner, which suggested they knew they had acted irregularly, according to a December 2012 court ruling.

Corte Ingles

Their trips were organized by a travel agency of the Corte Ingles department store in the federation headquarters outside Madrid. Auditors found that the expenses of the executives was “chaotic” and receipts for some travel expenses hadn’t been submitted, the ruling added.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is seeking to increase accountability and transparency of the Zurich-based soccer ruling body after scandals involving executives including former Vice President Mohamed Bin Hammam.

Bin Hammam was banned from soccer governance for life by FIFA in December for allegedly bribing Caribbean soccer officials in a bid to oust Blatter as president in 2011 elections. Bin Hammam denies wrongdoing, saying his ban was for political reasons.

Last year, an audit of the Asian soccer confederation by Price Waterhouse Coopers said Bin Hammam “routinely” used confederation bank accounts for personal receipts and payments including the purchase of a honeymoon trip for his son, and dresses for his daughter. The arrangement reflected “poor governance,” according to Price Waterhouse’s conclusions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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