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July 11, 2010

Mandela family: FIFA pressuring him to go to final

The Associated Press
Posted: 07/11/2010 03:25:54 AM PDT
Updated: 07/11/2010 03:31:23 AM PDT
JOHANNESBURG—Nelson Mandela has been put under “extreme pressure” to attend Sunday’s World Cup final, according to the former South African president’s family.The 91-year-old anti-apartheid icon has kept a low profile during the tournament, deciding against attending the opening game on June 11 following the death of his great granddaughter.

FIFA has yet to announce who will present the trophy to either Spain or the Netherlands at Soccer City on Sunday evening. Having Mandela perform the duty would be seen as a crowning moment for FIFA president Sepp Blatter to mark the end of the first staging of a World Cup in Africa.

“We’ve come under extreme pressure from FIFA requiring and wishing that my grandfather be at the final today,” Mandela’s grandson Mandla told BBC radio. “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.”

Mandla Mandela said the family withdrew from most activities since 13-year-old Zenani Mandela was killed in a car crash while returning from the World Cup opening concert.

“I think people ought to just understand the family’s traditions and customs and understand we’ve had a loss in the family and we are in mourning, and that for me would be enough reason to leave the family to be for now,” said Mandla. “Their focus is having this world icon in the stadium, yet not really paying attention to our customs and traditions as a people and as a family.

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