The Former President of FIFA from 1974 to 1998, Joao Havelange has died in a Samaritano Hospital, Rio de Janeiro aged 100.
The Brazilian was predecessor to Sepp Blatter at the world football’s governing body. He served from 1974 to 1998, and thereafter acted as honorary FIFA’s honourary President until April 2013, when he resigned following an investigation into bribery allegations and was admitted to hospital the following year with a lung infection.
He was an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member from 1963 until 2011, where, he resigned because of ill health.
“He had one idea in his head, to make football a global game with his slogan ‘football is the universal language’, and he succeeded,” said former Fifa president Sepp Blatter.
Current FIFA President Gianni Infantino expressed his sympathies in a statement on FIFA.com. Infantino said, “During his 24 years as FIFA President football became truly global, reaching new territories and bringing the game to all corners of the world. Something the whole football community should be grateful for. I extend my condolences to his family.”
Havelange represented Brazil in swimming at the 1936 Olympics – the year he qualified as a lawyer – before his election to the IOC.
As Fifa president he led the World Cup’s expansion from 16 to 32 teams, with six competitions held under his tenure.
However, his career was also mired in controversy over bribery allegations.
In 2010, a BBC Panorama programme accused Havelange and son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira of taking millions of dollars in bribes from Swiss marketing agency International Sport and Leisure (ISL) to retain the company as Fifa’s sole official marketer.