Blatter Pays Tribute to Nelson Mandela in Port Elizabeth

www.MyPE.co.za: “I am
an African, you have accepted me as an Africa,” declared FIFA™
President Sepp Blatter, with conviction to a 10 000 strong crowd at the
Yeyethu Nelson Mandela Bay 2010 festival in Zwide yesterday. (Sunday 30
May)

This is the first time the incumbent soccer boss has been to a Port
Elizabeth township and he was greeted with waving South African flags,
a chorus of vuvuzelas and a crowd using the African term of respect to
call his name: utata (father) Sepp.

The soccer-loving masses also chanted the names of other top
dignitaries attending the day-long festival, including Eastern Cape
Premier Noxolo Kiviet, Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Zanoxolo
Wayile and Local Organising Committee chief executive Danny Jordaan.

“Today is an important day for the metro, province and country as a
whole – as they say in the bible, there are few days before we can
cross the River Jordan,” said Wayile, welcoming Blatter and other
dignitaries and reminding the attendees that there remain only 10 days
to the first World Cup on the African continent. “It’s been a bumpy
road but we have walked shoulder to shoulder till we got here today,”
he added, referring to Blatter’s commitment to an African World Cup
calling him a “son of the (Bay) soil”.

Blatter gave a short speech to the crowds before rushing off to catch a
flight to Johannesburg. “I am happy to be a man of Africa. I am
especially happy today because we are in a historical stadium – Dan
Qeqe”. Blatter also paid tribute to the most famous icon of the Eastern
Cape, Nelson Mandela. “This is the man who brought the World Cup to
South Africa – I was only one of the workers. The man who did it was
Nelson Mandela.”

He also donated 10 soccer balls and 100 T-shirts to people attending
the event on behalf of FIFA™, as a symbolic gesture to emphasize the
role football plays in society: “Football will bring you the emotions
you need, but it will also bring you hope. My dear friends, it is time
to enjoy (football).”

Also attending the event at Dan Qeqe stadium – situated in the heart of
the Bay township area – were FIFA™ General Secretary Jerome Valcke,
Safa boss Irvin Khoza, MECs Xoliswa Tom (Sports, Recreation, Arts and
Culture), Pemmy Majodima (Public Works) and councillors from the city.

“The event has been designed to bring the atmosphere of the World Cup
right into the middle of the township and give people a fore-taste of
what the FIFA Fast Fest™ will be like,” said 2010 FIFA World Cup™
Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Director Errol Heynes. Crowds were
entertained by musicians, took part in Diski dancing lessons, and
watched a marching band and drum majorettes in what was a carnivalesque
celebration of football and fun.

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