Johannesburg: The presence of South African icon Nelson Mandela, 91, at next week’s World Cup final would make organisers “very happy” but it will be understood if he does not attend, a spokesman said on Sunday.
“Former president Nelson Mandela has got an open invitation to any match of the World Cup. If he comes we’ll be very happy, if he doesn’t we will understand,” organizing committee spokesman Rich Mkhondo told reporters.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who turns 92 this month and appears increasingly frail, was instrumental in bringing the World Cup to South Africa but has yet to appear at the tournament.
He cancelled a planned appearance at the opening match on June 11 after his great-granddaughter was killed in a car accident on the eve of the first match.
On Saturday, he met with Ghana’s squad after they were eliminated in a quarter-final against Uruguay.
Mandela had sent a letter to the national football federation to wish the last African team in the tournament success at the match on Friday.