Some of the best players in the world from the past and present will be on show in Cape Town on 18 July 2007 in a gala prelude to celebrate the 89th birthday of Nelson Mandela. An Africa XI will play a Rest of the World XI at the Newlands Stadium, uniting the world football family in a 90 Minutes for Mandela tribute to the legendary South African statesman, who has personified the fight against all forms of racism and discrimination and was instrumental in the decision to bring the FIFA World Cup™ to Africa and more specifically, South Africa, for the first time in 2010.
"We are honoured to once again be able to stage - after nearly a decade - a unique match to honour an extraordinary man who dedicated his lifetime to the promotion of human rights and democracy, our dear friend Nelson Mandela. We have known each other for nearly fifteen years and have more than just football in common, such as our work to fight discrimination and our drive to build a better future. What happened on Robben Island is a revealing example which shows the power of football to give hope and make a difference to people's lives," explained FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.
Further details on the match, including the line-ups and ticketing procedure, will follow at a later date.
As part of Mandela's birthday festivities, a special ceremony will be held at Robben Island, where the anti-apartheid activist spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. Fellow inmates of the Nobel Peace Prize winner will take the guests on a special 'Footsteps of Mandela' tour, which will feature the football pitch where the prisoners organised their league matches. For the freedom fighters, football represented more than just a game - it was about dignity, respect, fun and hope in a place where humanity was surviving in the midst of oppression and infamy. The docudrama More Than Just A Game, produced by award-winning South African filmmaker Anant Singh and supported by FIFA, tells this dramatic and little-known story of organised football being played by prisoners on Robben Island. The movie will be released this November.
The proceeds of the match, which will be organised by FIFA together with the South African Football Association (SAFA), the South African Local Organising Committee (SALOC), the Nelson Mandela Foundation and FIFPro (the international federation of professional football players), will all be earmarked for legacy programmes reaching out to young people in South Africa by using football to develop educational, health and social programmes. The exact activities will be decided and implemented in conjunction with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
It is the second time that FIFA is organising an all-star match to honour 'Madiba', an honorary title that has become synonymous with Nelson Mandela in his home country. On 17 August 1999, the Nelson Mandela African XI played a World All Stars XI in a farewell match for the outgoing president of South Africa. Kalusha Bwalya, Mark Fish and Lucas Radebe joined fellow stars such as Rigobert Song, Dunga, Luis Hernandez and Claudio Suarez in saluting the great leader in front of 40,000 spectators in the Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, one of the nine venues of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Kalusha Bwalya, who levelled the match at 2-2 in the last minute and is a 2010 FIFA World Cup™ ambassador, will once again be part of the Africa XI. Further interesting stories about 90 Minutes for Mandela can be found on the official website www.FIFA.com.