Former FIFA president Havelange dies, aged 100
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Joao Havelange, head of soccer's ruling body FIFA from 1974 to 1998 and a former member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), died in a Rio de Janeiro hospital on Tuesday at the age of 100.
"During his 24 years as president ... football became truly global, reaching new territories and bringing the game to all corners of the world," current FIFA head Gianni Infantino said in a statement.
"Something the whole football community should be grateful for. I extend my condolences to his family."
Havelange, who has died during the Olympic Games being staged in his home city of Rio de Janeiro, oversaw a transformation of FIFA and its flagship World Cup competition into a multi-million dollar enterprise.
However, his reign was marred by allegations of corruption and he resigned as honorary president three years ago after a FIFA Ethics Committee report said he had taken bribes from the now-defunct sports marketing company ISL over an eight-year period.
Havelange, a former Olympic swimmer and water polo player for Brazil, has been in and out of hospital in recent months with respiratory problems.
Sepp Blatter, who served as Havelange's secretary general for 17 years before taking over from the Brazilian as president, said "football owes him a huge debt of gratitude".
"His ambition was to make football a global game, calling it the universal language. He succeeded," said Blatter whose career also ended in disgrace last year when he was banned for six years for ethics violations.