Johannesburg – Fifa president Sepp Blatter visited the Houghton, Johannesburg, home of the late former president Nelson Mandela on Friday.
Blatter, CAF president Issa Hayatou, Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke and the president of the SA Football Association (Safa) Danny Jordaan, met Mandela's widow Graca Machel, his ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and other members of the Mandela family.
Also in the delegation were former human settlements minister Tokyo Sexwale, Safa chief executive Dennis Mumble, and NEC members Ria Ledwaba and Willy Mooka.
Blatter conveyed his condolences to the Mandela family.
“We visited the family together with members of the football family to give special respect and celebrate the life of the greatest humanitarian of our time, Nelson Mandela. Mandela meant a lot to me personally and the world,” he said.
“We reminded the family that their loss is a loss to world football and the world at large. It was important that we come here in person to pay respect to Madiba, to Graca Machel, Winnie Mandela and the rest of the family.”
Blatter said he had had the privilege of getting to know Mandela, and that they had formed a friendship.
“Madiba understood the role played by Fifa and football in fighting against apartheid. I had a lot of respect for him, for what he represents and stood for. Personally, I cannot put a price to what he has given me, what I learned from his life and during private moments with him.”
Blatter said Mandela had left a permanent mark during his time on earth.
“Madiba is the biggest icon of our generation. I do not think the world has seen anyone like him during our time. He brought people together. He built bridges between enemies. It is important that Madiba’s legacy is not forgotten. We must never forget the principles he stood for and what he gave up his life for. This is the time that we go forward and build on what he left us.
“Madiba taught us that we should forgive and he left us with a message of peace. We will now honour that message with a handshake for peace at football matches.”
Mandela died in Johannesburg on December 5 aged 95. – Sapa