Blatter honours South African President Zuma
© Getty Images

A special accolade was given to the President of the Republic of South Africa Jacob Zuma on the day of the Final of the FIFA Confederations Cup. In recognition of his refereeing activities for Makana Football Association on Robben Island between 1965 and 1973, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter conferred a special award for refereeing to Mr. Zuma.

"It is a historical moment for FIFA to have a former referee of Robben Island in Mr. Jacob Zuma. As such, we have decided that you are an International referee and that is why we have prepared a special Certificate for you," said President Blatter.

Thank you so much, I appreciate it," commented Mr Zuma. "This brings back memories of my young days when I could still play and referee!"

On Robben Island for years, political prisoners had to fight for the right to play football, with men secretly playing the game in their cells with balls made of pieces of paper, cardboard and rags tied together with string. The island's authorities finally gave in, granting inmates the right to play football in 1965. The prisoners then built their own goals and would swap their drab prison garb and play in the colours of their teams on Saturdays.

The Makana FA was formed in 1966. It was a football association which adhered strictly to the FIFA Statutes and the Laws of the Game. On 18 July 2007 Makana FA became the first FIFA honorary member association.

Among the best players on the island, were the likes of Kgalema Motlanthe (currently Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa), while Dikgang Moseneke (now a Constitutional Court Justice) was one of the best legal minds on the league's disciplinary committee at the time.