Shortly before the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup, an extraordinary gesture of friendship and fair play took place as Brazil, Spain and football united over one of the world’s most iconic figures, Nelson Mandela.
Mandela, the anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, has been in hospital for over 20 days with a lung infection.
Although his situation is still been described as ‘critical’, the country’s President, Jacob Zuma, announced on Thursday that his condition had improved.
Brazil FA President, Jose Maria Marin; Spain FA President, Angel Maria Villar Llona, joined FIFA President, Joseph S. Blatter, in a special presentation ceremony, in which shirts signed by the respective finalists were presented to Tokyo Sexwale, the Minister of Human Settlements in South Africa and a close friend of Mandela.
During the short ceremony, the FIFA President issued a statement addressed to ‘Madiba’ in which he said: “The strength of the world’s most popular game which you love so much, football, reaches out to you. With this gesture, the football world wants to tell you how much we are thinking about you.”
Upon Sexwale’s return to South Africa, these shirts will be presented to Mandela.