João Havelange, of Belgian descent, was an excellent swimmer in his youth, competing at the Olympics in both swimming and water polo. At the 1951 Pan-American Games he finished second with the Brazilian water polo team. However, he is better known as a sports administrator. He served as the president of Confederação Brasileira de Desportos (Brazilian Sports Federation) from 1958-75, was a member of the Brazilian NOC from 1955-63, and became an IOC member in 1963. In 1974, he was elected as the seventh president of the International Football Federation (FIFA), holding that position for nearly a quarter of a century, until 1998. Havelange earned a law degree from the Law School of Niterói at the Fluminense Federal University, and worked as a lawyer for Auto Viação Jabaquara, a bus company. He also became the president-director of Viação Cometa, another bus company, and served as the senior partner of Orwec Química e Metalurgia. He was given many awards, such as Cavalier of the Légion d'Honneur of France, the Order of Special Merit in Sports in Brazil, Commander of the Cavaliers of the Order of Infante D. Henrique in Portugal, Cavalier of the Vasa Orden in Sweden, and the Grand Cross of Elizabeth the Catholic in Spain.
In 2006 Havelange was implicated in a cash-for-contracts scandal that was revealed after the collapse of ISL, FIFA’s marketing partner. British investigative reporter Andrew Jennings told the Brazilian senate that Havelange may have amassed a fortune via a front company called Sicuretta. In late 2011, Havelange’s case was taken up by the IOC Ethics Commission, but just prior to any release of that commission’s research, Havelange abruptly resigned from the IOC in early December 2011.