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Updated: July 11, 2010 20:56 IST

Nelson Mandela to greet World Cup fans

AP
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In this photo released by the Mandela Foundation, former South African President Nelson Mandela smiles as he holds the FIFA World Cup trophy, at the Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg,on May 6, 2010.
AP In this photo released by the Mandela Foundation, former South African President Nelson Mandela smiles as he holds the FIFA World Cup trophy, at the Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg,on May 6, 2010.

Nelson Mandela will come out and greet fans ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final at Soccer City, his grandson said.

The 91-year-old anti-apartheid icon will then go home and watch the final between Spain and Netherlands, Mandla Mandela told The Associated Press.

“He said that he wants to come out and greet fans at the stadium,” Mr. Mandla said, adding that the former president was now resting so he could be “fresh and energetic” for the appearance.

Mr. Mandela has kept a low profile during the month-long tournament, having decided against attending the opening game on June 11 following the death of his great-granddaughter.

Earlier, Mr. Mandla criticized FIFA for putting “extreme pressure” on South Africa’s former president to attend the World Cup final. He said FIFA was being “inconsiderate,” given that the family is still in mourning.

“My grandfather has recently lost a great-granddaughter and the family is in mourning,” Mr. Mandla said. “They should be appraised of our customs and traditions.”

Mr. Mandela’s 13-year-old great-granddaughter, Zenani Mandela, was killed in a car crash while returning from the World Cup opening concert.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said it would be “wonderful” for Mr. Mandela to be at the final, having been instrumental in bringing the first World Cup to Africa.

“It is possible at the beginning of the match or just at the end of the opening ceremony, he may be present on the field of play,” Mr. Blatter said in a BBC interview recorded before Mr. Mandla made his comments.

FIFA is yet to announce who will present the trophy to either Spain or the Netherlands at Soccer City after the match.

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