Julio Grondona, Fifa’s senior vice-president and one of the most powerful men in football, has died aged 82.
The Argentine, second only to president Sepp Blatter in the Fifa hierarchy, was hospitalised in Buenos Aires on Wednesday with cardiac failure and later died, the governing body said.
Grondona had been head of the Argentine FA (AFA) since 1979 and a member of Fifa’s executive committee since 1988.
The South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) confirmed Grondona’s death in a statement, adding that he would be remembered for “giving his country recognition in football”.
The AFA responded to the news by announcing the postponement of all matches in Argentina’s domestic leagues this weekend as a mark of respect. The governing body also announced a halt to all administrative functions until Monday, meaning a press conference at which Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella was due to confirm his future has been postponed.
Lionel Messi was among those to send condolences after the announcement.
“It’s a very sad day for football, for all of Argentina and for me,” the Barcelona forward wrote on his Facebook account. Our president, Julio Grondona, you have left us. I want to send my sincere condolences and a large hug to all his family members and friends.”