Julio Grondona, long-time head of Argentina's AFA soccer federation, died Wednesday of heart failure, federation sources told Efe. He was 82.

Grondona was rushed to Buenos Aires's Mitre clinic, where he died at 12:50 p.m., as doctors were preparing him for emergency surgery.

The AFA declared seven days of mourning and postponed the opening of the professional season.

The federation's two vice presidents, Luis Segura and Juan Carlos Crespi will take charge of the AFA pending the election of a new president, which is supposed to take place within 90 days.

Grondona was 45 when he became president of Independiente, one of Argentina's Big Five soccer clubs, guiding the Buenos Aires side to two league titles.

He was elected AFA president in 1979.

Argentina won the World Cup once - in 1986 - during Grondona's tenure and reached the finals in 1990 and 2014.

He joined the FIFA Executive Committee in 1988 and was a vice president of soccer's world governing body at the time of his death.

Argentine soccer icon Diego Armando Maradona offered condolences to Grondona's family in a brief posting on his Facebook page accompanied by an old photo of himself with the late AFA chief.

Maradona had publicly feuded with Grondona since the retired superstar completed his stint as coach of the national team following the 2010 World Cup.

Another former national team coach, Cesar Luis Menotti, acknowledged Wednesday that he had "profound differences" with Grondona, but said their relationship was "cordial and respectful."

Grondona "was a very capable executive," Menotti told TN television. EFE