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Blatter Announces Mandela Moment Of Respect At FIFA World Club Cup

posted 10 Dec 2013, 10:52 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 10 Dec 2013, 10:53 ]

FIFA President Sepp Blatter says a "moment of respect and reflection" to Nelson Mandela will be held at every match at the Club World Cup in Morocco and promises to visit his resting place in January.

 ZURICHSWITZERLAND (DECEMBER 10, 2103) (FIFA) -  The memory of Nelson Mandela will be remembered with a "moment of respect and reflection" during the FIFA World Club Cup, the president of the world soccer governing Sepp Blatter said on Tuesday (December 10).

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The tournament gets under way on Wednesday (December 11) in Agadir whenRaja Casablanca, who qualified as champions of the host nation, face Oceaniarepresentatives Auckland City.

Speaking at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Blatter paid tribute to the 95-year-old former South African president who died on Thursday (December 5) inJohannesburg.

"It is with great sadness that I pay my respects to an extraordinary personality, one of the greatest humanists of our time and a dear friend of mine, Nelson Mandela," Blatter said. "Madiba and I shared an unwavering belief that football has the power to bring people together from all walks of life; that it is unique in its power to inspire unity, solidarity and equality among all people."

Mandela will be remembered as a man who recognised the significance of sport in the culture of South Africa and used it to unite the country.

After becoming president of South Africa in 1994, he quickly saw the value of using sport to unite the country by encouraging the whole population to support the previously despised Springboks as they hosted the Rugby World Cup of 1995.

Against the odds, South Africa beat tournament favourites New Zealand in the final. Wearing a Springbok shirt, Mandela presented the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar in a symbolic act of reconciliation between black and white South Africans.

Blatter also reminded how Mandela was influential in helping South Africa win the bid to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

"For him, the World Cup in South Africa truly was really a dream come true," Blatter said. "Nelson Mandela will still stay in our hearts forever. The memories of his remarkable fight against oppression, his incredible charisma and his positive values will live on in us and with us.

Blatter announced that a "moment of respect and reflection" will be staged at all matches at the Club World Cup, following many sporting tributes that have been paid to Mandela at soccer grounds since Mandela's death.

Dignitaries from around the world, including United States president Barack Obamaand Cuba leader Raul Castro, joined in a memorial for the former South African statesman in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Blatter also said in January he will visit Qunu, Mandela's ancestral home in the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape province, 700 km (450 miles) south ofJohannesburg where he is going to be buried on Sunday (December 15).