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Oct 10, 2012

Spanish FA chief denies racism problems

Spain's football federation chief has denied racism is a problem in Spanish soccer following several racist incidents among its fans at Euro 2012 and La Liga matches.

In comments reported on Wednesday by the Press Association, Angel Villa Llona said racism "does not exist" in the Spanish game.

UEFA fined the Spanish football federation (RFEF) $25,000 after Spain fans racially abused Mario Balotelli during Euro 2012, while last year Barcelona's Dani Alves said racism in the Spanish game is "uncontrollable".

Samuel Eto'o also highlighted racist abuse during his time with Barcelona.

But Llona, president of the Spanish FA and a member of both FIFA and UEFA's executive committee, insisted fans' racist behavior on Spanish grounds was not a problem.

Asked how racism in Spanish football compared to the game in England, which has had two high-profile abuses cases in the last year, Villa Llona said: "There is no racism in Spanish football."

Asked about the incident when Thierry Henry was the subject of a racist comment from former Spain coach Luis Aragones, Villa Llona repeated his insistence it was not an issue in Spanish football.

Aragones was sharply criticized across Europe after being picked up by TV microphones trying to motivate Jose Antonio Reyes by telling him he was better than "that black s---", in reference to the striker's Arsenal colleague Henry. Aragones was eventually fined $3,950 by the country's FA for the racist remark.

UEFA's disciplinary panel found Spain guilty in June of "improper conduct of its fans' [racist behaviour, racist chanting]" after Spain fans targeted abuse at the Italy forward Balotelli.

And last year, Alves said he had learned to live with racism in Spain.

"The clubs and the league try to do some things to stop it," he said. "They try to punish the clubs, but it is uncontrollable. It will not go away."

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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