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5 Facts About the Late Joao Havelange

Controversial former FIFA President Joao Havelange passed away yesterday at the grand old age of 100, leaving behind a decidedly mixed legacy.

Like his protege Sepp Blatter, Havelange time at the helm of world football's governing body was clouded by allegations of corruption and financial misdeeds.

For better or worse though, the Brazilian lawyer was a driving force behind the massive reach of the World Cup and the increased commercial sponsorship money flowing into the game.

Here are five facts about the former head of FIFA:

  1. Havelange was born into an affluent Belgian family in Rio de Janeiro on 8 May 1916. His father was an arms dealer and significant land owner.
  2. The future FIFA supremo competed as a swimmer in the 400m and 1500m freestyle events at the notorious 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He would return to the Olympics in 1952 in Helsinki as a member of the Brazilian water polo team that finished a disappointing 13th.
  3. From 1963 until his resignation due to ill-health in 2011, the Brazilian served as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
  4. Havelange defeated Englishman Sir Stanley Rous, the sitting FIFA President, in the 1974 FIFA presidential election in West Germany by appealing to developing nations outside of UEFA and CONMEBOL that felt they were being overlooked by world football. He promised more World Cup spots, which he delivered by eventually increasing the number of nations competing in the finals from 16 to 32. He also achieved better commercial deals in the form of lucrative arrangements with companies such as Adidas and Coca-Coca. And finally, he proposed the formation of a Youth World Cup that more nations could potentially host. While he did undoubtedly expand football's reach, the days of administrators governing the game with the aim of trying to do the best for the sport, was swept aside in place of aggressive businessmen looking to increase the commercialization of football.
  5. While claims of Havelange's reported corruption, particularly over the awarding of marketing rights, during his time with FIFA are well known, in 1992 a Dutch newspaper claimed that Havelange had solicited numerous bribes from cities hoping to host the Olympic Games while he was a member of the IOC.


  1. An unusual competition/administrative career - I can't think of someone who represented their country at the Olympics in two different sports and then reached the highest administrative position for a third sport.

  2. "very good share about the Late Joao from FIFA. this will help many football associations and fooltball lovers. i am so glad after looking at these facts.