Nicolás Leoz, FIFA Official Charged in Corruption Scandal, Dies at 90


Interpol issued a so-called red notice for him, telegraphing his status as an international wanted person, and Paraguayan authorities placed him under house arrest. Mr. Leoz’s lawyers denied any wrongdoing by their client and argued against his extradition to the United States, invoking his advanced age and deteriorating health. In 2018, a court in Paraguay approved his extradition, but Mr. Leoz appealed that decision, and at the time of his death it was pending before the country’s Supreme Court.

Nicolás Leoz Almirón was born Sept. 10, 1928, in Pirizal, in the Paraguayan Chaco, a remote area of the country. He studied to be a lawyer at the National University of Asunción. Early in Mr. Leoz’s career, he worked as a sports journalist before joining Paraguay’s national basketball confederation. He began at Conmebol in 1972, when he was in his early 40s. He was 84 when he stepped down.

“Nicolás Leoz sometimes would confuse his personal finances with Conmebol’s finances,” Alejandro Burzaco, an Argentine sports marketing executive and cooperating defendant in the United States case, testified at trial in Brooklyn in 2017. “He would steal from Conmebol.”

Conmebol, which has sought financial restitution from former officials who have been criminally charged, including Mr. Leoz, acknowledged in a brief message on Twitter that it had been informed of his death, but the organization did not reply to a request for further comment.

In 2015, on the day the United States announced the charges, FIFA’s ethics committee banned Mr. Leoz from working in national or international soccer. Lawmakers in Paraguay soon voted to revoke Conmebol’s legal immunity; in 2016, its headquarters, no longer a protected territory, were raided by the police, who seized evidence that was presented at the 2017 trial at which one of Mr. Leoz’s successors at Conmebol was convicted.

Mr. Leoz is survived by his wife, María Clemencia Pérez de Leoz; two sons; two daughters from a prior marriage; and four grandchildren.

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