Former FIFA president Havelange passes away

Havelange was the first non-European chief of world football's governing body. He held office from 1974 to 1998, when he was succeeded by Sepp Blatter and received the title of honorary president.

Joao Havelange served as FIFA president for 24 years and resigned as its honorary president in 2013.   -  Reuters

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. He held office from 1974 to 1998, when he was succeeded by Sepp Blatter and received the title of honorary president.

He resigned from the largely ceremonial role in 2013 after a report by FIFA's ethics chairman Hans-Joachim Eckert ruled that 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 in Berlin in 1936 and was a member of their 1952 water polo team in Helsinki. At the 1956 Melbourne Games he was Brazil's chef de mission and then joined 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 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 increased its financial power. He secured Coca-Cola and Adidas as 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 the former footballer's television company missed out on domestic football rights.

The feud resulted in Havelange banning Pele from the 1994 World Cup draw.

Unher him, 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.

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

Havelange was hospitalised in 2012 for an ankle infection and again in 2014 and 2015 due to respiratory problems for a lung infection. He was diagnosed with pneumonia last month.

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