FIFA President, Joseph S Blatter today led a delegation that visited the home of the late former South African president, Nelson Mandela in Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Blatter, together with CAF President Issa Hayatou, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and the president of the South African Football Association (SAFA) Danny Jordaan, had a private audience with Madiba’s widow Graca Machel and the former wife of the late president, Winnie Mandela together with other members of the Mandela family.
The FIFA President conveyed his heartfelt condolences in person to the Mandela family. Speaking after the meeting, Blatter said: “I was very touched to be welcomed by the Mandela family at their home today. We visited the family together with members of the football family to give special respect and celebrate the life of the greatest humanitarian of our time, Nelson Mandela. Mandela meant a lot to me personally and the world.
“We reminded the family that their loss is a loss to world football and the world at large. It was important that we come here in person to pay respect to Madiba, to Graca Machel, Winnie Mandela and the rest of the family. I had a privilege of knowing Madiba and we formed a friendship in the last couple of years. Madiba understood the role played by FIFA and football in fighting against apartheid. I had a lot of respect for him – for what he represents and stood for. Personally, I cannot put a price to what he has given me, what I learned from his life and during private moments with him.”
Honouring Madiba Legacy
While talking about the late icon, the FIFA President described Madiba as an individual who left a permanent mark during his stay on earth.
Blatter added: “Madiba is the biggest icon of our generation, I do not think the world has seen anyone like him during our time. He brought people together, he built bridges between enemies. It is important that Madiba’s legacy is not forgotten, we must never forget the principles he stood for and what he gave up his life for. This is the time that we go forward and build on what he left us.
"At FIFA, we value what he did for the world and we will ensure that his legacy lives forever and we tell future generations about a man who was exceptional. Madiba taught us that we should forgive and he left us with a message of peace. We will now honour that message with a handshake for peace at football matches.”
Madiba: A close friend of football
Representing the family, Zindzi Mandela, the daughter of Nelson Mandela, thanked Blatter and the FIFA delegation for the visit. “There was a close relationship between Tata (Madiba) and FIFA and we are humbled to receive the FIFA delegation led by President Blatter today.
"This has not been an easy time for us as the family but it is moving to know that football – a sport Tata loved – cares. On behalf of the family, we would like to thank FIFA, CAF and SAFA in keeping Tata’s legacy alive. Madiba taught us that we can all be better people and make a contribution to the world.”
SAFA President, Jordaan thanked the FIFA and the CAF President for the gesture. “Mr Blatter and Mr Hayatou walked a long walk with Madiba in a journey to do away with apartheid. FIFA played a key role in ensuring that the apartheid state was isolated and, when it was time to rebuild this country, FIFA also played a vital role. The hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was very close to Madiba’s heart and we thank Mr Blatter for championing that cause.