ZURICH - Former FIFA president Joao Havelange said on Tuesday that criticism of the world football body was motivated by envy.
"Everyone is looking for mistakes because everyone wants to sit in that chair," the 95-year-old Brazilian told reporters, referring to criticism of president Sepp Blatter who is set to be re-elected on Wednesday.
"You are talking about suffering but I want to talk about happiness," he added after a special greeting from Blatter at the opening ceremony of the Congress.
Blatter asked delegates to welcome Havelange, who is now its honorary president and is still fit and healthy enough to travel to FIFA functions.
"FIFA has 208 member associations and it looks after every one of them," Havelange said.
"The competitions are taking place as usual and there is development in every aspect of world football - financial, technical and in terms of discipline."
Havelange, was president of FIFA from 1974 to 1998. Blatter worked as Havelange's secretary general from 1981 until he succeeded him as president 13 years ago.
Havelange's former son-in-law, Ricardo Teixeira, was among four FIFA Executive Committee members accused during a British parliamentary inquiry this month of asking for favours from England's 2018 World Cup bid.
David Triesman, the former head of the bid, said that when he approached Teixeira, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) head replied: "What have you got for me."
Teixeira has denied the claim and was cleared of any wrongdoing by FIFA after they received a report from the English FA.comments