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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

90 Minutes for Nelson Mandela

Wednesday will be the 89th birthday of the Honorable Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa. Tomorrow in Cape Town, a special benefit game will take place in his honor. Today, several of the players met with him. Notably, Pele' of Brasil, and Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon and FC Barcelona.

Here were quotes by Pele' and President Mandela:

"I have met a lot of great personalities in my life but Nelson Mandela is an extraordinary person. I am really touched and honored to lead the Rest of the World team in his birthday match. I am a big admirer of what this man has achieved in his life."

Mandela praised world soccer body FIFA for honoring the Makana Football Association, which was formed by political prisoners on Robben Island, where he was incarcerated for 18 of the 27 years he spent in jail. Mandela watched games from his cell window until prison authorities built a wall to further cut him off.

"During the dark years of our incarceration, the association drew together all the prisoners on the island around the beautiful game of soccer," Mandela said. "In this way it helped uphold the values of tolerance, of inclusiveness and reconciliation, and of non-racialism and peace that are still dear to all of us today."

Reference

Soccer Legends Meet Nelson Mandela as celebrations begin for his 89th Birthday, USA Today, 17 July 2007.

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