12 Jul 2010

Mandela hoping to attend World Cup final

6:39 am on 12 July 2010

Nelson Mandela says he wants to attend the World Cup final between Spain and Netherlands to greet football fans and thank South Africa for hosting such a successful tournament

FIFA has said it hopes Mandela will attend but the former South Africa president, who turns 92 next week, is increasingly frail and rarely appears in public.

He missed the opening match of the tournament a month ago after his great-granddaughter died in a car accident.

The presence of Mandela, revered globally for his role in fighting apartheid and leading his country to democracy, would cap South African joy at successfully hosting the first World Cup on the continent.

Bafana Bafana bowed out of the tournament at the first round stage but President Jacob Zuma says the relatively smooth hosting of the finals made its people the champions.

Sceptics had doubted Africa's economic powerhouse could organise the World Cup, including completing construction of stadiums on time.

While some tourists have been robbed, the world's biggest sporting event has taken place largely peacefully, dousing fears of attacks on foreigners in a country with one of the world's highest rates of violent crime outside a war zone.