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Former FIFA president Havelange dies at 100 – reports

Former FIFA president Joao Havelange has died in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 100, according to reports in Brazil.

Havelange was the first non-European chief of world football’s governing body between 1974 and 1998, when he was succeeded by Sepp Blatter and received the title of honorary president.

He resigned from the latter largely ceremonial role in 2013 after a report by FIFA’s ethics chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert ruled he had taken bribes as part of a scandal involving the now-defunct International Sports and Leisure (ISL) sports marketing agency.

Havelange competed as an Olympic swimmer for Brazil at Berlin in 1936 and was a member of their 1952 water polo team in Helsinki.

At the Melbourne 1956 Games he was Brazil’s chef de mission before joining the International Olympic Committee in 1963.

As the IOC’s longest-serving member, Havelange stood down in 2011 with an ethics hearing pending over the ISL affair.

The Olympic Stadium at the on-going Rio Games, which began three months on from his 100th birthday, is named in his honour.

After serving as president of Brazil’s swimming federation, Havelange was the president of the Brazilian Sports Confederation from 1958-1973.

He resigned to accept the position as FIFA president the next year after defeating Stanley Rous in an election.

During Havelange’s tenure FIFA considerably increase its financial power. He secured Coca-Cola and Adidas to be the primary sponsors for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

Pele supported Havelange’s election to the presidency but the two endured a public fallout in the 1990s, when the Brazilian football icon was critical of his compatriot’s reign and accused Havelange’s son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira – then head of the Brazilian Football confederation (CBF) – of corruption when his television company missed out on domestic football rights.

The feud resulted in Havelange banning Pele from the 1994 World Cup draw but, despite such controversies, he won re-election in re-election in 1994 after strong lobbying among developing nations.

FIFA expanded the World Cup from 24 to 32 teams in 1998, while another central part of Havelange’s legacy by the time he left office was the global monetisation of the organisation’s multi-billion dollar television rights and marketing deals – something continued at pace, along with the more unsavoury aspects of his tenure, by Blatter.

FIFA established the Joao Havelange Research Scholarship in 2011 “to encourage scientific research into football.”

Havelange was hospitalized in 2012 for an ankle infection and again in 2014 and 2015 due to respiratory problems for a lung infection before being struck down with pneumonia last month.

Tue 16 Aug, 2016
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