Weekly Review: Nelson Mandela & the World Cup Draw

Erik's picture

The Death of a Legend

Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa and human rights campaigner, died at 95 of a lung infection. Well, even the kids feeding on the content of their stockings know that. People of all races and religions have mourned the loss but celebrated the work of the activist.

However, the Czech prime minister committed a big faux pas, when microphones overheard him say he was ‘dreading' going to the funeral. He apologized to the media, reportedly via a text message. Even children would agree that such conduct does not make a good impression, in memory of a man who went through much more torment than a journey to South Africa.

My manager at my former work was a South African and we used to talk about different issues. Once, we were talking about war veterans and I mentioned my grandfather, who fought in WWII and yet lived to 91-years-old. When discussing longevity, we could not omit Nelson Mandela. He spoke highly about the man who enjoyed good health until recently, and even entered marriage at the age of 80. Maybe, he wanted to compensate for the 27 years spent in prison (even if some of the stories from those years are pretty interesting).

Mandela refused release from prison on condition that his followers would give up the fight for freedom. In 1990, the incumbent president Frederik de Klerk released his future successor from prison and apartheid was formally over after the ‘94 election. Both, de Klerk and Mandela were bestowed the peace Nobel Prize in 1993. Recently de Klerk called for a revival of Mandela's ideas in order to avoid pending international isolation. South Africa has made a great progress.

FIFA World Cup Draw

The 2010 FIFA World Cup was held in South Africa, and Nelson Mandela made his last public appearance during the tournament. Symbolically, the group stage of the upcoming World Cup was decided a day after his death.

In every football tournament, there is always one group labelled the "group of death". This time round it is Group G with Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the US battling it out for two spots in the next round. Group B offers a match between the last World Cup finalists Spain and Netherlands, not to mention secret favourites Chile with Barca's Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal from Juventus and the veteran David Pizzaro. The same goes for Uruguay in Group D, who can endanger Italy or England, depending on the mental stability of their squads. The hosts, Brazil, shouldn't have any difficulties qualifying from their group, though Croatia will have to beat Mexico if they want to follow the Selecao.

The opening match on 12 June 2012 will start with a minute's silence to honour Mandela. The oft quoted man left behind many ideas and thoughts, and significantly changed the lives of generations of South Africans. Including footballers.

Erik Redli is a university graduate from Slovakia who lived in London for much of his graduate life. Read more of his posts here.

Share with friends