Blatter pays tribute to Mandela
President of world football-governing body, Mr. Sepp Blatter on Thursday night paid tribute to former South African President, Dr. Nelson Mandela, whose death was announced late Thursday by President Jacob Zuma.
“I am moved to pay the highest tribute to one man who made the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa possible, a world statesman and a hero for all time, Dr. Nelson Mandela, who died today,” Blatter said
at the FIFA Banquet of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final Draw in Salvador.
As officials from all 32 Participating Member Associations and other FIFA guests trooped into the huge makeshift tent at the Hotel Tivoli in Mata do Joao, Blatter made the announcement that had many rooted to
their seats. It was the first time most of the crowd were learning that the world statesman had passed on, at the age of 95.
It would be remembered that Dr. Mandela, who spent 27 years in jail and moved from being a militant freedom fighter to a prisoner and then to first elected President of a multi-party South Africa, was the
iconic figure in Zurich, Switzerland in June 2004, when FIFA’s 24-man Executive Committee voted for the FIFA World Cup finals to be staged in Africa for the first time.
NFF’s Director of Marketing, Mr. Adama Idris and Assistant Director (Media), Mr. Ademola Olajire, who are members of the Nigeria delegation to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final Draw, quickly moved to condole with Dr. Danny Jordaan, President of the South African Football Association, who was at the event.
Jordaan, a former parliamentarian and university lecturer, was the man who travelled the world twice campaigning for South Africa to host the finals, and was second time lucky after the disappointment of June 2000, in which South Africa lost by a single vote to Germany (for the 2006 finals) after New Zealand Charles Dempsey abstained from the vote for unstated reasons.
Even as the world prepared for Friday’s Draw Ceremony for the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals in Salvador, the global mood is sombre at the passing of one of the world’s truly remarkable leaders.