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Grondona dies aged 82

30 Jul 2014 19:32:23

Grondona dies aged 82

Julio Grondona, Argentina's FIFA vice-president who was the second-most powerful man in world football and an avowed enemy of the English, has died aged 82.

Grondona was FIFA's senior vice-president, behind only president Sepp Blatter in the pecking order, and as chairman of the influential FIFA finance committee held the purse strings of the global organisation.

Grondona - infamous for calling the English "liars and pirates" - had been head of the Argentine FA since 1979 and on FIFA's executive committee since 1988.

He managed to avoid becoming a victim of the corruption scandals which claimed the reputations of the three other fellow South Americans who dominated FIFA from the 1980s well into this century: Joao Havelange, Ricardo Teixeira and Nicolas Leoz were all found in 2013 to have taken massive bribes from FIFA's collapsed marketing partner ISL.

Grondona will take any secrets to the grave, but he was a hugely wealthy man - even before his FIFA involvement he had founded and been president of the Arsenal Futbol Club in Buenos Aires from 1957 to 1976.

He took over as head of the AFA a year after the country had won the World Cup for the first time in 1978. For the next decade he thrived, and was often pictured with the dictators that ruled the country, often brutally, during that time.

Indeed, Grondona never made any secret of his support for Argentina's claim to the Falkland Islands which saw his country to go war with Britain in 1982, and in recent years never hid his dislike for the English.

In 2011, Grondona launched a blast at the English after then FA chairman David Bernstein asked the FIFA Congress to postpone the presidential election where Blatter was elected unopposed.

Grondona told the Congress: "We always have attacks from England which are mostly lies with the support of journalism which is more busy lying than telling the truth. This upsets and disturbs the FIFA family.

"I see it at every congress. England is always complaining so, please I say, will you leave the FIFA family alone, and when you speak, speak with truth."

In an interview with a German press agency, Grondona had earlier called England "pirates" and added: "With the English [2018 World Cup] bid I said: 'Let us be brief. If you give back the Falkland Islands, which belong to us, you will get my vote'. They then became sad and left."

Grondona was also thought to have voted in favour of Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup.

Documents show a briefing note to Qatar's bid officials proposed that Qatar extend financial assistance to the Argentina FA after it suffered a financial crisis in August 2009, including a suggestion that the Qatari TV company Al Jazeera could purchase TV rights.

After the vote in 2010, Grondona denied that the AFA had received any payment from Qatar - one former Qatar bid official told the Wall Street Journal that a payment of £44million had been recommended.

Grondona responded then saying: "There has to be an end to playing with my good name. Why on earth would the association have a debt of that size?

"I am not going to give any credence to whatever people may say. The fact is the AFA has a solid contract with the Argentine government and it is all going quite well."

Grondona died at the Sanatorio Mitre private medical centre in Buenos Aires on Wednesday where he had been taken after suffering an aortic aneurysm.

On hearing the news, Blatter said on Twitter: "I am very sad for the loss of a great friend. Julio Grondona has left us at the age of 82 and are thoughts are with his family. May he rest in peace."

Grondona's son Humberto became embroiled in a World Cup ticket scandal in Brazil after he admitted selling on tickets - including two to the final - to a friend.


PA

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