By TALES AZZONI, Associated Press
SAO PAULO (AP) — Former FIFA president and IOC member Joao Havelange is still being treated with antibiotics to fight a serious infection in his right ankle, but the Brazilian football federation said his condition improved slightly on Wednesday.
The Samaritano Hospital in Rio de Janeiro said the 95-year-old Havelange remains in serious condition, but the Brazilian federation released a statement saying that Havelange "improved" from Tuesday, "leaving everyone hopeful of his recovery."
The statement was released after federation president Jose Maria Marin spoke on the phone with the doctor in charge of treating Havelange, Joao Mansur Filho.
"Joao Havelange is a strong person, he has always been healthy," Marin said on the federation's website. "Soon he will be back among his relatives and friends. I'm very hopeful that this will happen."
Havelange presided over the Brazilian federation for nearly two decades, including the period spanning Brazil's first three World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
Marin had visited Havelange on Tuesday, two days after the he was hospitalized with septic arthritis, a dangerous bacterial infection which affects joints and can spread quickly if not treated effectively with antibiotics.
Late last year, Havelange resigned from the International Olympic Committee citing undisclosed health reasons, avoiding a possible suspension for allegedly taking kickbacks from former FIFA marketing partner ISL in the 1990s.
Havelange presided over FIFA from 1974-98 and remains an honorary president. He was the last man in charge of the organization before Sepp Blatter became president, and 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.
A former Olympic swimmer and water polo player, Havelange joined the IOC in 1963 and was its oldest member until resigning in December, just three days before the IOC's executive board was preparing to rule on claims that he took a $1 million kickback from World Cup marketing deals while FIFA president.
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