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By ESPN Staff

Court hitch threatens Spain's Euro 2008 summer

MADRID, Feb 29 (Reuters) - A Spanish court has rejected an appeal from the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to delay this year's presidential election, leaving the country on a collision course with FIFA and facing a possible ban from Euro 2008.

The court said that public interest required the RFEF and its president Angel Maria Villar to meet a government demand that all sporting federations not involved in the Olympics hold elections before the Beijing Games begin in August.

'They have not explained why they cannot meet the order nor have they explained what damage will result from them fulfilling it,' read the court ruling issued on Friday.

Villar, who has been president of the RFEF for the last 20 years, has the right to appeal against the ruling.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter warned Spain earlier this month they would be barred from international competitions if the government pressured the RFEF into an early election.

'If the Spanish government continue to interfere in footballing affairs they will have to recognise that their clubs and national team will be excluded from international tournaments,' Blatter told Spanish media in a briefing.

'It would be tough, but it would only take six hours to call a FIFA emergency meeting to hear and decide upon Spain's exclusion.

'Spain would not be able to play at Euro 2008 and their clubs wouldn't continue in the Champions League or UEFA Cup.'

Blatter said FIFA would not be afraid to take action as demonstrated in past conflicts with Portugal and Greece where it had prevailed.

Spain's government-run Sports Council (CSD) said on Friday that they saw 'no incompatiblity' between Spanish laws on federation elections and FIFA's electoral codes and warned the RFEF from taking any further action that might escalate the conflict.

'Spanish law guarantees the independence, participation and transparency of the electoral process in all federations,' the CSD said in a statement released on its website.

'We have agreed to communicate to the RFEF our complete disagreement with the position of their leadership and in particular with any possible illegal agreements that might be agreed by its general assembly next Monday.'