FIFA Vice President Grondona Hospitalized; Heart Issue Reported

Julio Grondona, senior vice president of soccer’s governing body FIFA, has been hospitalized, with media reports in his native Argentina saying he has a heart problem.

Grondona, 82, has been an influential figure in soccer since his appointment in 1979 as head of the sport in Argentina, predating the end of the military junta in the South American country.

Grondona “suffered a slight complication,” the Argentine soccer body, known as AFA, said in a statement posted on its website. Grondona’s family “as a precaution” has moved him to a hospital where his condition is being monitored, it added.

AFA wasn’t more specific. Local media including La Nacion said he entered the hospital with a heart issue.

Grondona was due to attend a press conference later today, during which Alejandro Sabella is expected to confirm he will step down as coach of Argentina’s national team, La Nacion said. Sabella led Argentina to its first World Cup final in 24 years this month, where it lost 1-0 to Germany after extra time.

During Grondona’s tenure, Argentina has reached three World Cup finals, winning one in 1986 when the team was led by player of the tournament Diego Maradona. Grondona described Maradona as a jinx after the team secured a late 1-0 victory over Iran in its second World Cup game after Maradona left the stadium.

Grondona courted controversy in 2003 when he made disparaging remarks about Jews. In 2010 he said he would back England’s bid to stage the 2018 World Cup only if the U.K. returned the Falkland Islands to Argentina. The U.K. and Argentina fought a 1982 war over the territory, which is called the Malvinas in Argentina.

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