Joao Havelange, the man who transformed Fifa into a million-dollar business dies at 100

Joao Havelange, who as president of Fifa for two decades transformed soccer's governing body into a multibillion-dollar business and a hotbed for subsequent corruption that damaged its reputation, has died. He was 100.

AP August 16, 2016 21:10:19 IST
Joao Havelange, the man who transformed Fifa into a million-dollar business dies at 100

Rio de Janeiro: Joao Havelange, who as president of Fifa for two decades transformed soccer's governing body into a multibillion-dollar business and a hotbed for subsequent corruption that damaged its reputation, has died. He was 100.

The Samaritano Hospital in Rio de Janeiro said he died on Tuesday, while Rio was hosting the Olympic Games. In 2009, Havelange led off Rio's bid presentation to the IOC in Copenhagen by inviting the members to vote to "join me in celebrating my 100th birthday'" at the 2016 Games in Brazil.

Joao Havelange the man who transformed Fifa into a milliondollar business dies at 100

File photo of former Fifa president Joao Havelange. AFP

Havelange expanded the World Cup from 16 to 32 teams and made it one of sport's most important events. He organized six World Cups as Fifapresident from 1974 to 1998, when Sepp Blatter replaced him. He secured lucrative broadcast deals, brought nations into Fifa and created the women's World Cup.

With more cash for football also came widespread financial wrongdoing by its top officials, including Havelange. In 2013, Fifa ethics court judge Joachim Eckert said Havelange's conduct had been "morally and ethically reproachable."

Havelange was never punished. He was allowed to resign his honorary presidency of Fifa in 2013.

Prior to that, Havelange also resigned in December 2011 as a member of the International Olympic Committee just days before its leadership was expected to suspend him and rule on claims that he took a USD 1 million kickback.

Three of Fifa's most notorious officials -- his son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira, Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner --joined FIFA's executive committee during Havelange's presidency. All three were subsequently swept up in corruption investigations by Swiss and U.S. authorities last year that also brought the end of Blatter's 17-year presidency.

Fifa was a small organisation with about a dozen employees when Havelange took over at its Zurich headquarters in 1974.

"I found an old house and USD 20 in the kitty," Havelange told Fifa's website. "On the day I departed 24 years later, I left property and contracts worth over USD 4 billion. Not too bad, I'd say."

He was re-elected president six times, capitalising on his contact-building across world football. Fifa's membership expanded by nearly one-third, to more than 200 nations and territories, under Havelange. China was readmitted in 1980 having left the organization in 1958.

"I clocked 26,000 hours in the air, the equivalent of spending three years in an airplane," Havelange said. "The only country I never visited was Afghanistan, because they wouldn't let me in."

The son of a Belgian father and a Brazilian mother, Havelange was a top-notch athlete before becoming a sports administrator. He swam for Brazil at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and played on its water polo team at the Helsinki Games in 1952.

Havelange headed the Brazilian football confederation for nearly two decades, when Brazil's national team won its first three World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

Havelange was the first non-European head of Fifa and its longest serving president, stepping down at age 82.

In a 1999 survey by the IOC, Havelange was voted among the top three sports leaders of the 20th century, behind former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and modern Olympics founder Pierre de Coubertin. He joined the IOC in 1963.

Havelange had a heart pacemaker implanted in 2006. He was hospitalized for more than two months, including several weeks in intensive care, in 2012 because of an infection in his right ankle.

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

FIFA ratifies COVID-19 relief plan, makes $1.5 billion available to associations, football communities
Sports

FIFA ratifies COVID-19 relief plan, makes $1.5 billion available to associations, football communities

All of the 211 FIFA member associations will receive a $1 million grant “to protect and restart football” and can access interest-free loans of up to $5 million.

World Athletics' Sebastian Coe calls on sport to work towards attracting younger audiences
Sports

World Athletics' Sebastian Coe calls on sport to work towards attracting younger audiences

Opening an online seminar, Coe underlined the importance of holding the attention of the audience in a complex entertainment landscape

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic schedule remains unchanged for next year, say organisers
Sports

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic schedule remains unchanged for next year, say organisers

The Paralympics open on 24 August, 2021, and close on 5 September. The Olympics are to open on 23 July.