Joao Havelange laid the foundations for the World Cup becoming one of the most lucrative sporting events in the world.
Fifa president between 1974 and 1998, Havelange led the World Cup's expansion from 16 to 32 teams, with six competitions held under his tenure.
He represented Brazil at the 1936 Olympics - the year he qualified as a lawyer - before his 1963 election to the International Olympic Committee.
However, his career was also mired in controversy over bribery allegations.
Investigative reporter Andrew Jennings worked on a BBC Panorama programme that accused Havelange and son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira of taking millions of dollars in bribes from Swiss marketing agency International Sport and Leisure Leisure to retain the company as Fifa's sole official marketer.
Havelange resigned from the IOC last year for health reasons, thereby avoiding an investigation into the ISL allegations, which the 95-year-old Brazilian had denied.
Earlier this month, Teixeira stepped down as head of Brazil's football federation and resigned from the 2014 World Cup organising committee.
Teixeira, who led the federation for 23 years, had come under pressure over corruption allegations, which he has denied.
As well as swimming at the 1936 Olympics, Havelange was part of the Brazilian water polo team at the 1952 Helsinki Games.
But it was as a sports administrator - and particularly in football - that Havelange made his mark.
He outflanked Britain's Sir Stanley Rous to be elected Fifa president in 1974, marshalling support among those unhappy at the perceived European domination of the world governing body.
An imposing figure, with piercing blue eyes, his astuteness as a politician and his adeptness at retaining power enabled him to hold the seventh Fifa presidency for 24 years until being succeeded by Sepp Blatter in 1998.
When Havelange was elected president, Fifa's Zurich headquarters housed just 12 staff members. But that figure increased almost tenfold over the next two decades as the world governing body's organisational responsibilities and commercial interests grew.
Increasing the size of the World Cup to 32 teams gave countries from Asia, Oceania and Africa the chance to shine on the world stage, Cameroon becoming the first African country to reach the quarter-finals in 1990.
It was Havelange who launched a wave of new tournaments, notably the world championships at Under-17 and Under-20 level in the late 1980s and the Fifa Confederations Cup and Fifa Women's World Cup at the start of the 1990s.
Blatter was Havelange's protege and the Swiss administrator built on the Brazlian's work, with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa helping Fifa's revenues past the billion dollar mark for the first time.