Mandela determined to attend World Cup - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mandela determined to attend World Cup

04/06/2010 10:37:36 PM Comments (0)

Nelson Mandela is determined he will attend the opening game of the World Cup in Johannesburg in a week's time because it would realise his dream, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said on Friday after meeting the former president.

Speculation is intense over whether the 91-year-old, South Africa's most famous citizen, will be well enough to attend any of the World Cup games. He is not suffering from a specific illness but is reported to be very frail.

Blatter revealed he had a brief meeting with Nelson Mandela on Thursday, and the icon had said he wanted to be at next week's opening game.

"All I can say is that he (Mandela) is convinced that he shall be at the opening," Blatter said. "He wants to be there because he wants to live up to his dream."

"We just cross fingers that his dream will be realised ... and he will honour the opening and the kickoff to this World Cup."

Mandela has strong links to sport in South Africa after he famously appeared at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final wearing the green and gold jersey of the Springboks.

Blatter handed over the World Cup on Friday to South Africa's vice president Kgalema Motlanthe, in place of President Jacob Zuma who is on a state visit to India.

Wearing a yellow South African football shirt, Motlanthe took charge of the trophy on the steps of the Union Buildings in the capital Pretoria.

He backed the country's national team to win the tournament and keep the trophy in Africa.

"It is not only the first time that Africa hosts it but it is also the first time the trophy actually remains on the continent of Africa," he said as the crowd cheered.

The World Cup later appeared in Soweto, the famous, sprawling township on the southern outskirts of Johannesburg, where it was put on display at a community hall. Fans, mostly groups of noisy schoolchildren, were allowed one minute next to the glistening gold trophy to take photos before being hurried along.

South Africans were also celebrating the last "Soccer Friday" before kickoff - where they are encouraged to wear soccer shirts to work.

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