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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

In Soccer, What Havelange Wants, Havelange Gets

LOS ANGELES -- That Joao Havelange got his way at last week's FIFA executive committee meeting was no surprise, considering that the question carried potent financial and political ramifications. Expanding the World Cup finals from 24 to 32 teams, as the executive committee unanimously approved for the 1998 tournament, has long been a pet project of Havelange. And Havelange usually gets what he wants. Politically, the expanded tournament has the same obvious appeal as lowering taxes. Havelange brilliantly appeased both the developing areas of soccer -- Africa and Asia -- and the powerhouse continent of Europe. Havelange wanted the expansion in Africa and Asia to reflect the sport's growth in the developing world, where, coincidently, the voting members see the Brazilian as their champion. At the same time, Havelange got European officials to approve the change after promising Europe's allocation would not be cut. Having gained that "concession" from Havelange, the Union of European Football Associations withdrew its challenge to his reelection next month. Africa already had gained a third spot in the finals, after the success of Cameroon in the 1990 Cup. It is expected that four of the additional eight teams will come from Africa and Asia. U.S. coach, Bora Milutinovic, now coaching his third different World Cup team, responded to news of the expansion with: "It's good. It means you have more places now to find a job." n Brazilian soccer legend Pele said Monday he had made up with FIFA president Joao Havelange after their World Cup draw rift. "We met in Tobago recently. We are friends again. The past is behind us," Pele told the '2002 World Cup Japan' congress without elaborating. The FIFA boss barred Pele from taking part in the 1994 World Cup draw ceremony in December over a row between his compatriot and Brazilian Football Confederation president Ricardo Teixeira, Havelange's son-in-law. (LAT, Reuters)