Soccer body FIFA orders flags at half mast for Mandela

Thu Dec 5, 2013 6:16pm EST

FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks during a news conference ahead of the 2014 World Cup draw at the Costa do Sauipe resort in Sao Joao da Mata, Bahia state, December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks during a news conference ahead of the 2014 World Cup draw at the Costa do Sauipe resort in Sao Joao da Mata, Bahia state, December 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Sergio Moraes

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(Reuters) - World soccer body FIFA ordered flags to be flown at half mast and a minute's silence to be held before the next round of international matches after the death of Nelson Mandela on Thursday.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, in Brazil for Friday's draw for the 2014 World Cup, paid tribute to the former South African president and Nobel Peace Prize winner in a statement.

"It is in deep mourning that I pay my respects to an extraordinary person, probably one of the greatest humanists of our time and a dear friend of mine: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela," said the Swiss.

"When he was honored and cheered by the crowd at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium on 11 July 2010, it was as a man of the people, a man of their hearts, and it was one of the most moving moments I have ever experienced."

Mandela's last major appearance on the global stage came at those 2010 World Cup finals, the first to be hosted on African soil, when he attended the final in Soweto to a thunderous ovation from the 90,000 strong crowd.

The man who made reconciliation the theme of his presidency had also won over many whites when he donned the jersey of South Africa's national rugby team - once a symbol of white supremacy - at the final of the rugby World Cup in Johannesburg's Ellis Park stadium in 1995.

"Nelson Mandela will stay in our hearts forever. The memories of his remarkable fight against oppression, his incredible charisma and his positive values will live on in us and with us," said Blatter.

"As a mark of respect and mourning, the flags of the 209 member associations at the Home of FIFA will be flown at half-mast and there will be a minute's silence before the next round of international matches."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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Comments (2)
tommy_45 wrote:
Is Obama smoking crack?? We, DO NOT Fly the American Flag at Half Staff for anyone except American Heroes. I will NOT fly my flag at half staff for Mandela. Are you nuts?? I could care less about some President from South Africa. Hey Obama, my flag will be at full staff as it is now. I would never lower it to half staff for some African Terrorist. Are you f’ukkkin stupid. Where are you when everyday our soldiers give their lives so we may enjoy ours. What about lowering the flag for our soldiers at half staff. Screw S. Africa.

Dec 05, 2013 11:02pm EST  --  Report as abuse
tommy_45 wrote:
Is Obama smoking crack?? We, DO NOT Fly the American Flag at Half Staff for anyone except American Heroes. I will NOT fly my flag at half staff for Mandela. Are you nuts?? I could care less about some President from South Africa. Hey Obama, my flag will be at full staff as it is now. I would never lower it to half staff for some African Terrorist. Are you f’ukkkin stupid. Where are you when everyday our soldiers give their lives so we may enjoy ours. What about lowering the flag for our soldiers at half staff. Screw S. Africa.

Dec 05, 2013 11:02pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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