Doctors say Havelange responding well to treatment

TALES AZZONI AP Sports Writer Published:

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Former FIFA president and IOC member Joao Havelange is improving from a serious infection that has kept him in hospital for almost two weeks, a Brazilian hospital said Friday.

The Samaritano Hospital said in a statement that the 95-year-old Havelange's health still requires close attention but he is in "stable condition" and responding to the antibiotics administered to try to contain the infection in his right ankle.

"Joao Havelange is responding well to treatment, is breathing without the aid of a ventilator and his blood pressure is under control," the statement signed by Dr. Joao Mansur Filho said.

Havelange's condition had been listed as serious for most of the time he has spent at the Rio de Janeiro hospital. He was admitted on March 18.

Doctors had reported slight improvements in Havelange's condition but it was the first time they said he was responding well to his treatment.

The hospital said that on Thursday they performed another drainage procedure on Havelange's ankle to try to control the infection. Havelange had already undergone the procedure on Tuesday.

The Brazilian, who will turn 96 in May, was diagnosed with septic arthritis, a bacterial infection that affects joints and can spread quickly if not treated effectively with antibiotics. It remained unclear if Havelange's infection had spread to other parts of his body.

The hospitalization came just three months after Havelange resigned from the International Olympic Committee citing undisclosed health reasons. His departure in December allowed him to avoid a possible suspension or even expulsion for allegedly taking kickbacks from former FIFA marketing partner ISL in the 1990s while he was FIFA president.

Havelange had been with the IOC since 1963 and was its oldest member.

He presided over FIFA from 1974-98 and remains an honorary president of football's governing body. He was the last man in charge of the entity before President Sepp Blatter took over and is credited by many for expanding football 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.

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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