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By ESPN Staff

Spain Euro 2008 'expulsion' threat banished

MADRID, April 22 (Reuters) - The Spanish government has agreed to allow the country's football federation (RFEF) to hold its presidential election in the last quarter of the year after a threat from FIFA to exclude Spain from Euro 2008.

The government, through the Sports Council (CSD), had demanded all Spanish sporting federations not involved in the Olympics hold elections in the first quarter of 2008 - before August's Beijing Games.

But the RFEF and its president, Angel Maria Villar, disregarded the ruling at a general assembly last month, and voted to hold a new election by Nov 26. A request to be allowed to postpone the election was subsequently turned down.

But the CSD made a U-turn in a statement released on Tuesday citing 'circumstances that make it very difficult for the RFEF elections to be held according to its statutes.'

Blatter had backed the RFEF in its stance and threatened to bar Spain from international competitions if they continued to pressure the federation.

'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,' Blatter told a media briefing.

'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.