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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 July 2007, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Fifa honours inmate footballers
Nelson Mandela with Fifa president Sepp Blatter
Nelson Mandela with Fifa president Sepp Blatter
The football-playing former inmates of South Africa's Robben Island prison will receive a special honour from football's world governing body Fifa.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter will grant honorary membership status to the Makana Football Association, which was formed by prisoners on the island during the apartheid era.

The move comes as part of the celebrations to mark the 89th birthday of Nelson Mandela, Robben Island's most famous captive, on 18 July.

Fifa said it will hold a ceremony on the island, where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in captivity.

The game will kick off a few hours before the start of the "90 Minutes for Mandela" match between an Africa XI and a Rest of the World XI at Cape Town's Newlands Stadium.

Blatter described former South African president Mandela as "the world's most powerful symbol of non-racialism".

"While in confinement on the island, political prisoners played organised football matches as members of the Makana FA, adhering strictly to the Fifa Statutes," Blatter said.

"They are a strong symbol of Fifa's fight to eradicate racism and all forms of discrimination from football and sport, and it is only fitting that their efforts be recognised with this honorary membership."

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