Controversial former FIFA president Joao Havelange dies at age 100
The Brazilian passed away Tuesday at Hospital Samaritano in Rio de Janeiro. It’s reported he had been suffering from respiratory problems in recent months.
Havelange was the first non-European to head FIFA and is the man responsible for turning the World Cup into the multi-billion dollar enterprise it is today after expanding it from 16 teams to 32.
Havelange built FIFA to be what it is until FBI's intervention. Classic model of favors for votes. He did modernise it too. He died today.— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) August 16, 2016
In his 24 years as president of the federation, he paved the way for the Confederations Cup, Women’s World Cup and a number of underage tournaments.
He oversaw the increase in national soccer federations from 142 to 204. FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland saw significant growth under his leadership too, going from 12 staff members in 1974 to more than 120 today.
A former Olympic swimmer and water polo player for Brazil, he was succeeded as FIFA president in 1998, when his protégé Sepp Blatter was elected. He was, however, appointed the body’s honorary president at this stage.
Joao Havelange taught Sepp Blatter everything he knew on how to run FIFA. That's about all you need to know about his legacy to soccer.— Phillip Bupp (@phillipbupp) August 16, 2016
Havelange: oversaw growth of football on & off the pitch while creating a damaging corrupting culture in FIFA https://t.co/R5aVrTJHND— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) August 16, 2016
A number of controversies, however, marred Havelange’s legacy.
He was described in a 2013 report by FIFA ethics court judge Joachim Eckert as being "morally and ethically reproachable” after it emerged he and his son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira, and a number of other top Fifa officials, had received millions of dollars in bribes from the Swiss marketing agency International Sport and Leisure to retain the exclusive rights to market FIFA tournaments.
Joao Havelange, the former FIFA president has died. Football gave him so much. Yes, you read that correctly.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) August 16, 2016
Havelange never received any punishment for this, however, and was allowed to resign from his position as honorary president in 2013.
'How They Stole The Game' by David Yallop is a great book on how Havelange manipulated and corrupted football from the 1960s onwards— Martyn Ziegler (@martynziegler) August 16, 2016
He also resigned from the International Olympic Committee in December 2011 after 48 years on similar grounds. His resignation came just days before he was about to be suspended from the IOC for reportedly taking $1 million in bribes.
Rio’s Engenhao Stadium, one of the venues playing host to a number of events for the 2016 Olympics, was named after him. It is now known as the Estádio Olímpico Joao Havelange.