With the 2010 World Cup being held in South Africa, it’s an obvious no-brainer that FIFA president Sepp Blatter would salivate over the possibility of closing the first ever World Cup held on the African continent with former South African President and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela presenting the champion’s trophy to either Spain or the Netherlands on Sunday. And there is no harm in asking, of course, but reports emerging that Mandela, who will be 92 this week, is under “extreme pressure” from FIFA to present the trophy are a bit unsettling, particularly in light of the passing of Mandela’s great grandaughter, Zenani, following the World Cup opening concert. Mandela’s grandson, Mandala Mandela, has spoken out on the issue:
We’ve come under extreme pressure from FIFA requiring and wishing that my grandfather be at the final today. But I think that decision will solemnly lie with him, how he wakes up today, how he feels, what his medical team says, but as well his family.
My grandfather is 92 years old next week, this is an evening game. He’s expected to hand over the trophy after the game which could be anything from 10:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and it will be quite strenuous on his part.”
Mandela has generally steered clear of the international soccer celebration, and with good reason. The family is in mourning and the man is basically 92 years old. Let it go FIFA. Or here’s a suggestion—Invictus star Morgan Freeman will be at the game — maybe FIFA should consider him to present the trophy.
Mandela faces pressure to attend final [AP/ESPN]