RIO DE JANEIRO: Joao Havelange, 95-year-old former president of world federation FIFA and of the Brazilian sports confederation, is seriously ill with an unspecified ‘imfection’ in the heart unit of the Hospital Samaritano in Rio de Janeiro.

Chief cardiologist Joao Mansur Filho said in a bulletin that Havelange’s condition is “serious and a matter of concern.” Havelange was previously treated for a stomach infection at the same hospital two years ago.

Havelange, who competed for Brazil at the Olympics of 1936 and 1948 – as a swimmer then a water polo player – rose to become president of the CBF in 1956. He ousted Englishman Sir Stanley Rous as president of FIFA in 1974 and launched the commercial TV-and-sponsorship medel which revolutioned worldwide the financing of football in particular and sport in general.

He retired from the FIFA presidency in 1998 and was succeeded by his long-time general secretary, Sepp Blatter.

Havelange played a key role in winning 2016 Olympic Games hosting rights for Rio de Janeiro but he quit the International Olympic Committee under a cloud last December, ahead of an inquiry into his links – while FIFA president – with the long-bankrupt marketing partner ISL.

Only last week Havelange’s former son-in-law, Ricardo Teixeira, was driven by pressure over financial scandals from his joint presidencies of the Brazilian football federation and the 2014 World Cup local organising authority.


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