South American football officials have confirmed that Julio Grondona, the longtime head of the Argentina Football Association, has died aged 82.

The announcement was made by the South American football confederation, CONMEBOL.

Grondona, a powerful ally of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, had been hospitalised earlier on Wednesday. Local media reported that he died hours later of heart problems.

Grondona, who was known as "The Godfather',' had been the AFA's president since 1979.

He was also a FIFA senior vice president and head of FIFA's finance committee. He had announced that we would step down from his posts in 2015.

Blatter responded to the death almost immediately with a tweet: "Very sad for the loss of a great friend. Julio Grondona has left us at 82. Rest in peace''.

Controversy

Grondona attended the World Cup final three weeks ago when, Argentina lost 1-0 to Germany at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. With Grondona in charge, Argentina won the World Cup in 1986 and lost the finals in 1990 and 2014.

But he has never been far from controversy. Critics blamed him for the endemic fan violence in Argentine football, where every club match faces the threat of violence by hooligan groups.

Grondona said the problem simply reflected the growing violence on the streets of the country.

He was also heavily criticised by former national coach and retired star Diego Maradona, who blamed Grondona for many of the festering problems in the national game.

Source: AP