Real Madrid and Barcelona facing potential Champions League ban

  • Spanish football federation agreed to government commission
  • National body has been repeatedly hit by scandals
  • Punishment could result in Euro 2024 & Champions League exclusion
Champions League ban?
Champions League ban? / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

La Liga clubs and the Spanish national team risk being banned from FIFA and UEFA competitions after the government stepped in to oversee the running of the country's football federation.

RFEF has been under the spotlight since last summer when Luis Rubiales, then president of the organisation, forcibly kissed Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent following the Women’s World Cup final. He was later suspended from all football activity by FIFA for three years and reluctantly gave up his position, having continued to protest his innocence of wrongdoing.

Prosecutors are seeking a two and a half year jail sentence for Rubiales, who also stands accused of trying to coerce Hermoso in the aftermath, with former women's team head coach Jorge Vilda, director of the men's national team Albert Luque and RFEF marketing director Ruben Rivera others considered suspects in the coercion case, which they denied.

But the scandals kept coming, with an investigation into alleged corruption at RFEF under Rubiales going public in March when raids were carried out by authorities and multiple people arrested, with allegations centring on corruption, improper management and money laundering. Rubiales was summoned to court on Monday to testify as a witness in the probe. He was initially arrested last month following his return from the Dominican Republic but was released after being detained.

Pedro Rocha, who had been interim president since Rubiales' departure, was announced as the new RFEF president last Friday. A legal challenge in March had previously called for Rocha to be relieved of his duties for a variety of reasons, including not following the statutes to call elections, receiving the president’s salary and ending the legal challenge to the deal between La Liga and CVC.

Now, one of the new chief's first acts has been to accept a Supervision, Normalisation and Representation Commission created by the government department of Education, Professional Training and Sports, headed by Spanish football legend Vicente Del Bosque.

Pilar Alegria, spokesperson for the government ministry, explained on Tuesday that the role of the commission is: "Firstly, to represent Spanish football; secondly, to ensure transparency and good performance of the next electoral process that the Federation has to experience after the Olympic Games; and thirdly, successfully facing the challenges that Spanish football has ahead of it: the European Championship, the Olympic Games and the 2030 World Cup."

RFEF is still expected to work independently, despite meetings with the commission to take place.

FIFA & UEFA have concerns that RFEF can be run independently
FIFA & UEFA have concerns that RFEF can be run independently / Denis Doyle/GettyImages

But where there could be problems is FIFA's strict rules on all its member associations complying with "principles of good governance" and being fully independent of political influence or interference. FIFA and UEFA have already jointly contacted Jose Manuel Rodriguez Uribes, Spain's president of the Supreme Council for Sports to express concern and request detailed clarification.

A letter shared by AS stated: "Based on the information available to date, FIFA and UEFA are very concerned that the appointment of the Commission may significantly affect the RFEF's obligation to manage its affairs independently and without undue influence."

The questions asked are as follows: "On what legal and/or factual basis was the Commission appointed? What is the composition of the Commission and who appointed its members? What is the exact mandate of the Commission? What are the powers of the Commission? What relationship does the Commission have with the statutory decision-making bodies of the RFEF?"

Friday 3 May is the deadline given for the relevant information to be shared.

If not satisfied, FIFA could hypothetically suspend Spain as a member association. That would automatically exclude the country from Euro 2024 and the Olympics this summer, in addition to stopping the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and various La Liga sides from entering the Champions League and UEFA’s other club competitions. Hosting the 2030 World Cup, which is set to be shared with Portugal, Morocco, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, would also be jeopardised.

Only Russia are currently suspended by FIFA, relating to the country's 2022 invasion of Ukraine.