Doctor: Havelange has serious bacterial infection

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By TALES AZZONI, Associated Press

SAO PAULO (AP) — Former FIFA President is fighting a grave bacterial infection in a Rio de Janeiro hospital.

The 95-year-old Havelange has septic arthritis, an infection that affects joints, with his right ankle affected the most, Dr. Joao Mansur Filho said in a statement Tuesday.

Havelange was admitted to Samaritano Hospital on Sunday. He is listed in serious condition and another update is not expected until Wednesday.

Jose Maria Marin, president of the Brazilian soccer federation, visited Havelange on Tuesday.

"I was optimistic with the news the doctor gave me in relation to his improvement," Marin said. "Everybody wants to see Havelange back with us again soon."

Havelange entered the hospital three months after 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, who will turn 96 in May, was one of the most influential figures in sports. He presided over soccer's ruling body from 1974-98 and remains an honorary president. He was the last man in charge of the organization before Sepp Blatter became president.

He is credited by many for helping make soccer a global game. Under his watch, FIFA grew from a small organization with a staff of about a dozen to a powerful enterprise administering the multibillion-dollar sport worldwide.

Havelange, a former Olympic swimmer and water polo player, joined the IOC in 1963 and was its oldest member until resigning.

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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