Spanish President to quit after World Cup scandal
MEWS: The President of the Spanish Rugby Federation said Friday he will step down from his post after Spain was thrown out of the 2023 World Cup in France for fielding an ineligible player during the qualifying stages.
Alfonso Feijoo confirmed that Spain would appeal the decision and that he would not resign until the “disciplinary procedures initiated are well advanced”.
The FER has opened an investigation into the behaviour of Alcobendas, the club of South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg who is at the centre of the row.
Van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018, played twice against the Netherlands, in 2020 and 2021, in qualifiers, but he may not seemingly have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.
“The alleged falsification of a document has been brought to the attention of justice,” Feijoo said.
“I regret having come to this outcome, but we were deceived. I never would have thought that anyone could falsify an official rugby document.”
According to sports daily Marca, it was the player himself who falsified a copy of his passport.
Spain was deducted five points for each infringement and fined £25,000 (US$31,400).
Subject to their appeal, Spain’s place in Pool B will now go to Romania while Portugal will progress to the final qualification tournament in November.
It is the second time that Spain has fallen foul of the eligibility rules — they were also excluded along with Romania and Belgium from the 2019 World Cup in Japan for a similar breach.
“We want to express our disgust and anger, and distance ourselves from the officials who have now twice wrecked our participation at the World Cup,” the Spain players wrote in a press release on Friday.
“As a squad, we wish to distance ourselves from all the lies and inefficiency of the federation.”