RIO DE JANEIRO: Jose Hawilla, for years one of the most powerful men in Brazilian and South American sports business, has died in Sao Paulo at 74 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The former journalist became a multi-millionaire after turning his hand to sports marketing and rights with the assistance and approval of former long-term FIFA president Joao Havelange and the latter’s son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira, for years himself head of the Brazilian football confederation (CBF) and a world federation executive member.

Hawilla, who created the powerful Traffic agency, was brought down by the FIFAGate football corruption scandal. He had agreed to pay restitution of more than $150m to the United States authorities in a plea bargain deal which included giving evidence against Jose Maria Marin and Juan Angel Napout in New York last year.

Marin was another former president of the CBF while Napout had been president of the South American confederation. Both were found guilty of bribery and corruption offences and are awaiting sentence.

Hawilla needed oxygen provision as he gave evidence.

He was permitted to return home to Brazil, despite awaiting sentence himself, and died in Sirio Libanes hospital in Sao Paulo after being admitted on Monday with breathing problems.

Hawilla began his career as a pitch reporter on a radio station in Rio Preto in the 1960s. He then worked as a reporter for Radio Bandeirantes and TV Globo, where he covered Formula 1 before concentrating on football.

In the 1980s he changed career and bought Traffic which had managed advertising on bus stops in major cities which provided a further connection to Havelange who, alongside sports administration career, had run the Comet bus business.

Traffic soon dominated the football stadia advertising business and became the largest sports marketing agency in first Brazil, then South America.

Hawilla moved into television by buying up a strong of local state television channels as well as the Bom Dia newspaper network and Diario de São Paulo. He also founded the TV7 broadcasting and programme production company.