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

and Brazil.”

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.