Former FIFA President Joao Havelange hospitalized

TALES AZZONI AP Sports Writer Published:

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Former FIFA president and IOC member Joao Havelange is hospitalized in serious condition.

The Samaritano Hospital in Rio de Janeiro released a statement Monday saying the 95-year-old Havelange was undergoing treatment for an infection.

Havelange was admitted late Sunday night.

"His condition is serious and requires close attention," said the statement signed by doctor Joao Mansur Filho.

No other details were released.

Late last year, Havelange resigned from the International Olympic Committee citing undisclosed health reasons. The resignation came while he faced a possible suspension for allegedly taking kickbacks from former FIFA marketing partner ISL in the 1990s.

Havelange, who will turn 96 in May, presided over FIFA from 1974-98 then was replaced by current President Sepp Blatter. He remains FIFA's honorary president.

A former Olympic swimmer and water polo player, Havelange is credited by many for growing soccer into a global game. Under his watch, FIFA grew from a small organization with a staff of about a dozen to a powerful and vigorous enterprise administering the multibillion-dollar sport worldwide.

He expanded the World Cup from 16 to 32 teams and helped the competition become one of the most important and lucrative sporting events in the world. He organized six World Cups as FIFA president.

Havelange also presided over the Brazilian Football Confederation for nearly two decades, including the period spanning Brazil's first three World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

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