50° Good Morning
50° Good Morning

Mandela's appearance caps World Cup revelry

South African former President Nelson Mandela and his

South African former President Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel arrive for the 2010 FIFA football World Cup prior the final between the Netherlands and Spain, Sunday. (July 11, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Nelson Mandela waved to the crowd at Soccer City as South Africa bid farewell to the 2010 World Cup in emotional and joyous ceremony Sunday.

The 91-year-old anti-apartheid icon had kept a low profile during the monthlong tournament, deciding against attending the opener June 11 after the death of his great-granddaughter in a traffic accident following a World Cup concert.

Driven in a small golf cart and seated alongside wife, Graca Machel, the smiling, warmly dressed Mandela was welcomed by a thunderous mix of vuvuzelas and roars from the crowd. He shook hands with officials before leaving the field a few minutes later.

Earlier, Shakira performed "Waka Waka" ("This Time for Africa"), the competition's official song. Also performing was Grammy Award-winning a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

The ceremony was attended by heads of state from across Africa, including South Africa's Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. Dutch and Spanish royals were also present, as were Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. They were rubbing shoulders with a list of celebrities that included model Naomi Campbell, tennis star Rafael Nadal and actor Morgan Freeman.

Dancers wearing the colors of the 32 competing nations performed before a backdrop of pictures of stars and fans beamed onto the field. Performers dressed in white elephant costumes made their way onto the field toward a large image of a watering hole.

Themes included pantsula and gumboot dancing and local jazz - all touchstones of South African music.

Dutch and Spanish fans created a carnival atmosphere before the match, embracing police and posing for photographs while blowing vuvuzelas whose sound has become synonymous with the 2010 tournament.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports