Ding dong the witch is dead. At the age of 100.
Joao Havelange, who poisoned the wells of world football, even had one of the Olympic stadia named after him, has died. But then what could you expect? His ex-son-in-law, the shamelessly corrupt Ricardo Teixeira, had to flee the country after, like Havelange himself, being exposed of taking money from the late Horst Dassler’s ISL company. This, having against all logic and morality, been installed as head of the Brazilian World Cup organisation.
David Yallop’s devastating book, How they Stole the Game, the work of an outstanding investigative journalist, published in 1999 (the year after Havelange at last stepped down from the Fifa Presidency) presents a picture of massive corruption, ruthless intrigue, relentless greed.
Yet, it is tempting to recall, in the words of the great 18th century political philosopher, Edmund Burke, that for evil to triumph, it is enough for good men to do nothing. Havelange bribed and manipulated his way to the Fifa presidency at its Frankfurt assembly in 1974. He was voted back into office on three occasions. Of course, many of those votes, like those he purchased in 1974, were acquired by underhand and expensive means.