Former president of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), Joao Havelange, is dead.

Joao, who led FIFA from 1974 to 1998, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 100 in Rio, Brazil.

In a statement released by FIFA on its website, FIFA.COM, FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, described Havelange’s  24 years as FIFA president as a period when football became truly global and when it started reaching new territories.

He went on to describe Havelange as someone who brought the game to all corners of the world.

Who was Havelange?

There is no gainsaying the fact that majority of the present football followers started following the game in the era of Sepp Blatter, but how many people knew the man who came before Blatter.

Here are few things that might interest you about Jean-Marie Faustin Godefroid de Havelange (Joao Havelange).

  1. Joao Havelange was born on May 8, 1916 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Belgian Immigrants.
  2. He was an excellent swimmer. He competed at the 1936 summer Olympics in Berlin and at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. He was voted into the International Olympic committee in 1963 and resigned as a member in 2011.
  3. He was an excellent student in school and thus completed his Ph.D in law at age 24.
  4. Prior to his years in FIFA, he served as the President of the Brazilian Sports Confederation between 1958 and 1973.
  5. He became the president of FIFA on June 11, 1974 after defeating Englishman Stanley Rous in an intensified lobby campaign supported by his countryman, Pele.
  6. He was the first (and, to date, only) non-European to hold the position of FIFA president.
  7. After completing six terms (24 years), Havelange announced his decision to stand down in 1998 and supervised the election of Joseph Sepp Blatter. He was named FIFA’s honorary president in 1998.
  8. He was the second longest serving FIFA president. The longest serving FIFA President till date was Jules Rimet, a Frenchman who ruled FIFA for 33 years (1921 – 1954). He oversaw the staging of six FIFA World Cup finals.

During Havelange‘s 24 years in office, 50 new associations joined the world football governing body. He also introduced FIFA Women World Cup and played a huge part in ensuring the first edition of women World Cup was held in 1991.

Havelange’s administration also introduced age grade football tournaments; Men’s U-17 World Cup in 1985 and U-20 World Cup in 1977.

In 2011, the Brazilian Olympic Committee published Havelange’s Biography. The book titled, “Joao Havelange – O Dirigente Esportivo do Seculo XX” (Joao Havelange: The Greatest Sports Administrator of the 20th Century) featured the published and unpublished stories, photos and life of Joao Havelange.


Author: Timilehin Boyinde

Oluwatimilehin Boyinde is a research writer and a social media strategist. A public affairs analyst, he writes about history, politics, sports, life matters and technology. He is passionate about happenings in Local and international political arenas. He is an avid Manchester United fan and an unapologetic Nigerian.