ASUNCION: Veteran South American president Nicolas Leoz has quit the FIFA executive committee just 37 days away from annual congress in Mauritius writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Leoz, an 84-year-old Paraguayan, has offered health concerns as his reason and, indeed, he did undergo heart surgery in Brazil last November.
However Leoz is also one of the known individuals who accepted illicit payments from FIFA’s former commercial partner ISL – and his resignation comes with ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert due to report back on the scandal at any day.
Leoz is just the latest departed member of the exco who voted, controversially, in December 2010 on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host awards.
Other departures have included the disgraced Ricardo Teixeira (Brazil), Mohamed Bin Hammam (Qatar) and Jack Warner (Trinidad and Tobago).
Only last April Leoz secured his command of CONMEBOL when his colleagues in the South American confederation declared him ‘president for life.’
This move followed hastily after FIFA’s reform advisers had proposed the introduction of age and term limits for members of both the world federation’s executive committee and, possibly, for the six regional confederations.
Sports journalist . . .
Leoz, sports journalist turned history teacher turned lawyer, has been leader of CONMEBOL since 1986. He succeeded Peruvian Teofilo Salinas then not only as president but as a member of FIFA’s exco.
Along with Argentinian veteran Julio Grondona and – until last year – Teixeira, Leoz comprised a triumvirate who had wielded a power within FIFA totally beyond their numerical status.
A former president of the Libertad club and twice a president of the Paraguayan federation in the 1970s, Leoz was accused by ex-FA chairman Lord David Triesman of asking for a knighthood in exchange for voting for England in the FIFA World Cup 2018 ballot.
Leoz always denied any wrongdoing.
FIFA said that it had “taken note of the formal resignation of Nicolás Leoz” and expected CONMEBOL “to decide immediately on [his] replacement . . . as one of its representatives on the FIFA executive committee for the remaining period of office.”
CONMEBOL showed its ability to move at speed a year ago when it hastened in Marco Polo Del Nero in succession to Miami-exiled fellow Brazilian Ricardo Teixeira.
In fact, Uruguayan Eugenio Figueredo will take over as acting president of CONMEBOL until 2015 when an election will be held. Figueredo was president of the Uruguayan federation from 1997 to 2006 and will be confirmed in the CONMEBOL role by an extraordinary executive committee meeting on Tuesday.
In resigning all his FIFA posts, Leoz has also stepped down as president of the organising committee of the imminent Confederations Cup. He missed the draw last December while convalescing from heart surgery. His duties then were taken over by committee vice-chairman Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast.
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