FIFA pressing Mandela to attend final

July 11, 2010 12:00 am

, LONDON, Jul 11 – Former South African President Nelson Mandela is being placed under \’extreme pressure\’ by football\’s world governing body FIFA to attend the World Cup final between European champions Spain and the Netherlands later on Sunday, his grandson told BBC radio.

Mandla Mandela criticised FIFA and its president Sepp Blatter for pressurising his aging grandfather – who was instrumental in bringing the World Cup to South Africa – especially in the wake of the death of his great granddaughter Zenani Mandela on the eve of the finals in June.

Mandla Mandela blasted FIFA for not understanding the customs and traditions of the family and that they were still in mourning for Zenani, who died just two days after her 13th birthday when her car flipped over on a central Johannesburg highway while returning from a World Cup concert the night before the kick-off.

The driver, 23-year-old Sizwe Mankazana, was close to the family but faces charges of drunk driving and culpable homicide.

"The family has really taken a step back from a lot of activities and we\’ve been mourning the loss of Zenani," Mandla Mandela told BBC Radio Five Live.

"So we\’ve come under extreme pressure from FIFA requiring and wishing that my grandfather be at the final today (Sunday).

"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.

"They (FIFA) said that (president) Sepp Blatter wished that my grandfather comes out to the final.

"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.

"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."

Nelson Mandela, 91 and who appears less and less in public, struck one of the enduring sporting images when in 1995 he presented the trophy to Springbok skipper Francois Pienaar after South Africa beat the All Blacks in the rugby World Cup final.

Rugby unlike football had been seen as one of the pillars of the apartheid regime and seeing Mandela sporting a Springbok shirt as he presented the trophy represented a significant sign of the unifying of the two races.


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