Mandela attends World Cup closing ceremony

Page last updated at 17:45 GMT, Sunday, 11 July 2010 18:45 UK

Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel at the closing ceremony of the 2010 World Cup at Soccer City, Johannesburg, on 11 July 2010 Nelson Mandela attended the ceremony with his wife, Graca Machel

Nelson Mandela has turned up at the World Cup closing ceremony to greet his fans.

The former South African president was smiling as he was driven across the pitch in a golf cart with his wife, Grace Machel.

Earlier, one of his grandsons said Fifa had put Mr Mandela under "extreme pressure" to attend.

Mandla Mandela said the engagement would be "strenuous" for the 91-year-old, who is increasingly frail.

Shaking hands

The crowd at the Soccer City stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, welcomed Nelson Mandela with a mixture of cheers and vuvuzela blasts.

The anti-apartheid icon shook hands with officials before leaving the field a few minutes later.

He was expected to return home to watch the game, which kicks off at 1930 BST, on television.

The Nobel laureate cancelled plans to attend the opening ceremony after his great-granddaughter died in a car crash the night before the tournament.

Speaking to the BBC earlier, Mandla Mandela said: "We've come under extreme pressure from Fifa [the governing body of world football] requiring and wishing that my grandfather be at the final.

Heads of state and leading figures from business and entertainment have jetted in for the game, which will see European champions Spain take on the Netherlands; neither team has ever won the competition.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher, in Johannesburg, says the tournament is judged to have been a success for South Africa.

More than three million people have attended the games, while the widely predicted security and transport problems have failed to materialise.

Nelson Mandela's attendance will be seen as the perfect end to a competition that has boosted not only his country but all of Africa.

However, he remains in fragile health and is still in mourning for great-granddaughter Zenani Mandela, 13, who was killed in a car crash after leaving a World Cup concert in Soweto on the eve of the tournament.

On Thursday, Mr Blatter expressed hope that Mr Mandela would attend the final, saying: "He has had this trophy in his hand when he was in Zurich in 2004, and it will be a wonderful moment for him, for football, for Africa - if this can be a possibility."

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