Former FIFA Head Joao Havelange Dies

Former President of FIFA ( Fédération Internationale de Football Association) – the world football (soccer) organization – Joao Havelange died August August 16 in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro at the age of 100. Samaritano Hospital stated that Havelange had been dealing with a respiratory infection.

When the International Olympic Committee was deciding on future cities for the Olympic Games, Havelange gave the presentation and invited the Committee to join him for his 100th birthday in Rio.

Current FIFA President Gianni Infantino spoke on Havelange saying, “the whole football community should be grateful for his contribution. During his 24 years as FIFA president football became truly global, reaching new territories and bringing the game to all corners of the world.”

Havelange noted that when he took over as the head of FIFA in 1974 – the first non-European to do so – the organization had an old house and about $20; when he left the organization, FIFA was valued at abut $4 billion.

Under Havelange’s presidency FIFA expanded to 32 teams, became one of the world’s biggest sporting events, landed broadcast deals, and created the women’s World Cup and got women’s soccer to become a part of the Olympics. When he left office, FIFA had more members than the United Nations.

Long before taking over as the head of FIFA, the Brazilian native was a part of the 1936 Olympic swim team in Berlin and was a member of the water polo team for the Helsinki games in 1952.

After the Olympics, Havelange turned his hand to sports administration, heading the football confederation in his native Brazil, leading the Brazilians to three World Cups.

The stadium where the Olympic track and field events are being held is officially the João Havelange Olympic Stadium but IOC officials refer to it simply as The Olympic Stadium.

He was born Jean-Marie Faustin Godefroid de Havelange on May 8, 1916 in Rio de Janeiro the son of a Belgian father and a Brazilian mother. He played football, boxed, and swam as a child. He earned a law degree from the Fluminense Federal University in Rio de Janeiro.

He organized six World Cup championship events during his tenure. Havelange lost his spot as the President of FIFA due to “Morally and ethically reproachable” deeds.

Havelange was also a member of the IOC for 48 years but resigned in 2011 after being suspected of taking a million dollar kickback.

Havelange is survived by his wife of 70 years Anna Maria, daughter Lucia, and three grandchildren – oana, Ricardo, and Roberto.

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