South America football confederation president hospitalized

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) -- Nicolas Leoz, the 84-year-old president of South America's football confederation, is in intensive care at a Sao Paulo hospital following a heart operation Thursday.

Nestor Benitez, the spokesman for CONMEBOL, the governing body of South American football, said Leoz underwent surgery to clear an arterial blockage. He said it was Leoz's fourth heart operation and he is expected to recover quickly.

On its website, CONMEBOL said Leoz had a stent placed in a coronary artery "that was severely obstructed.''

The operation was carried out at Brazil's Hospital Sirio Libanes and termed by CONMEBOL as "very successful.'' The football body said he could be back to work next week "carrying out normal duties at CONMEBOL's headquarters'' in Asuncion, Paraguay.

Leoz, a Paraguayan, has headed South American football since 1986 and is a key ally of 80-year-old Julio Grondona, FIFA's senior vice president and the head of the Argentine Football Association.

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