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Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Friday, 23 April 2010 13:15 UK

Fifa's Sepp Blatter hopes Mandela can open World Cup

Fifa president Sepp Blatter with Nelson Mandela
Sepp Blatter hopes that Nelson Mandela can open the World Cup

Fifa president Sepp Blatter is hopeful that Nelson Mandela will be healthy enough to open June's World Cup finals in South Africa.

The former South African president, now 91, made his last public appearance on 11 February to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his release from prison.

"We cross fingers that Nelson Mandela ... can realize this dream," Blatter said.

"And his dream would be to be at the opening of the World Cup," he added.

"For the time being, he is doing well and we hope that he can do it."

The president of football's world governing body again said he was confident the event would be a success and predicted that more than 95 percent of tickets will be sold.

Blatter brushed off suggestions that as a developing country South Africa was a bad choice to host the World Cup, saying the African continent deserved to host the event because of all that it has given world football.

Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke, who is responsible for overseeing the tournament, said South Africa was so well prepared it could start it "tomorrow."

None of the 300,000 remaining tickets will be given away, said Valcke, adding that sales over the past eight days indicated all remaining seats will be sold before the first match.

But he acknowledged that "we have to work on our ticketing" after initial sales were sluggish and organizers were forced to cut prices to encourage South Africans to attend.



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see also
Fifa boss to mediate in Togo row
21 Apr 10 |  African
SA police defend security plans
09 Apr 10 |  Football
World Cup will leave a lasting legacy - Blatter
02 Mar 10 |  World Cup 2010
South Africa ready for Cup - Fifa
02 Mar 10 |  World Cup 2010


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