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12. Mai 2010
World Cup trophy begins South African tour
Former president Nelson Mandela welcomed the World Cup trophy to South Africa on Thursday before the coveted gold statue begins a tour of the country ahead of next month's World Cup.
"For us there was no way that the trophy would arrive in the country and not being brought first to Mandela," FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said in a statement. "Nelson Mandela was one of the architects of this FIFA World Cup."
Football governing body FIFA sent the gold-and-malachite trophy on a 134,014-kilometre (83,272-mile) world tour that stopped in every African country ahead of the June 11 kick-off of the continent's first World Cup.
The trophy will head next to the township of Khayelitsha outside Cape Town, where it will start the final leg of its tour, stopping in 38 cities and towns across all nine South African provinces.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winner last saw the trophy in Zurich six years ago, when South Africa was awarded the 2010 World Cup.
"It was so wonderful seeing Madiba in Zurich on the day South Africa won the right to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, so happy with tears of joy rolling down his cheeks," Danny Jordaan, CEO of South Africa's organising committee, said Thursday.
"So, it is quite an emotional and joyful moment to be back bringing the trophy to him."
In 2008, FIFA president Joseph Blatter presented Mandela with a replica of the trophy, in tribute to his role in securing the World Cup for South Africa.
Source: Sapa-AFP, SA GoodNews