ASUNCION: In a move which directly defies pressure to democratise the structures of world football, Nicolas Leoz has been declared ‘president for life’ of the South American football confederation.

Paraguayan Leoz has been leader of CONMEBOL since 1986 when he succeeded Peruvian Teofilo Salinas. He has been a member of world federation FIFA’s much-derided executive committee since then.

Leoz, 83, along with Argentinian veteran Julio Grondona and – until earlier this year – Brazilian Ricardo Teixeira comprised a triumvirate who had wielded a power within FIFA totally beyond their numerical status.

He said in Asuncion that the agreement had been sealed within CONMEBOL over the weekend. In effect he can remain president until he decides himself to step down or until his death. The step is a gesture of defiance against would-be reformers within FIFA including governance expert Mark Pieth.

Leoz – a one-time sports journalist then history teacher then lawyer – ┬ásaid: “The contract was signed recently in Santa Cruz. I have been appointed president for life. I owe a lot to the national associations in South America. We have grown CONMEBOL enormously and this could not have been achieved without all their support.”

He was one of the FIFA officials named as having received illicit payments from ISL Marketing, the long-bankrupt former  marketing and commercial adviser of FIFA.

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 denied the accusation.

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