Paraguay’s Leoz quits FIFA executive committee
FIFA executive committee member Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay
resigned Tuesday, citing health reasons, just days before expected
rulings in a World Cup kickbacks investigation.
FIFA said the 84-year-old confirmed his departure by letter and
also will step down as president of CONMEBOL, South America’s
governing body. As CONMEBOL leader, he also held the largely
ceremonial position chairing FIFA’s 2014 World Cup organizing
”This is a strictly personal decision. My mental health is very
good but physically I’m not able to travel five times a year to
Switzerland and two other times to Japan,” Leoz said. ”I also
don’t have the needed energy to stay as head of the 2014 World Cup
organizing committee. I will not be able to travel to 10 cities (in
Brazil) to approve stadiums. But I will continue to support FIFA
Leoz, who has undergone several rounds of heart surgery, has
been CONMEBOL’s president since 1986 and a member of FIFA’s
executive committee since 1998.
He was identified during a Swiss criminal trial in 2008 as
having received payments from FIFA’s former marketing partner ISL,
which collapsed into bankruptcy in 2001 with debts of around $300
million. The resulting prosecution of agency executives revealed
the widespread practice of buying influence from sports
Five years ago, Leoz was named in court papers for receiving
$130,000 from ISL. The British broadcaster BBC later reported that
Leoz took payments totaling $730,000.
Last year, FIFA published a Swiss prosecutor’s report that
linked President Sepp Blatter’s predecessor, Joao Havelange, and
Ricardo Teixeira, then head of the Brazilian 2014 World Cup
organizing committee, to improper payments from ISL totaling $22
Havelange remains FIFA’s honorary president. Teixeira, his
former son-in-law, resigned from soccer citing health problems
before Switzerland’s supreme court ruled the report should no
longer be kept secret.
FIFA never opened proceedings against Leoz. He still could face
FIFA sanctions after it closed a loophole in its code of ethics
last year that previously allowed soccer officials who resigned to
evade disciplinary action.
Leoz joined former executive committee colleagues Teixeira, Jack
Warner of Trinidad and Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar in walking away
from soccer while facing corruption allegations.