Tribute by Sepp Blatter, former President of FIFA to João Havelange

João Havelange has passed away.

As the Olympic Games take place in his home city of Rio, he has left us today, 16 August 2016, at the age of 100 and three months.

Besides his Olympic spirit, João Havelange will of course be remembered for his life in football, which culminated in his accession to the presidency of FIFA at the Frankfurt Congress in June 1974 – the post he occupied until 1998.

His ambition was to make football a global game, calling it the "universal language". He succeeded. From February 1975, I had the personal honour of following him on his quest, helping to develop FIFA into the organisation it is today.

Football thus owes him a huge debt of gratitude. I thank him for the trust he gave me in achieving his objective.

The name Havelange will always be synonymous with the development of football –  and with the Olympic movement, to which the Estádio Olímpico João Havelange in Rio is testament. Thanks to João Havelange, football is the world's leading sport – not only from a social, cultural and economic perspective, but also in terms of its political impact.

Rest in peace, João. Football –  your passion, my mission – is in good shape. You should be proud.

And thank you, João. My deepest sympathy and condolences to your family, especially your charming wife Ana Maria.