Mandela tribute at weekend games

A minute's applause will take place at all football matches in the Premier League, Football League and FA Cup this weekend to mark the passing of Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela

The International Olympic Committee has announced it will lower the Olympic flag for three days in memory of Mandela, South Africa's first black president who has died aged 95.

FIFA said there would be a minute's silence as a mark of respect ahead of the next round of international football matches.

The announcements came as stars from the world of sport paid tribute to Madela.

The tributes were led by former South Africa rugby union captain Francois Pienaar - Mandela's appearance in a Springboks shirt and cap to present the 1995 Rugby World Cup trophy to Pienaar was a defining moment in transforming the country into a multi-racial democracy.

It inspired the Hollywood film Invictus, and Pienaar told Sky Sports News: "The enormity of his impact is very difficult for me to describe.

"The impact he had on me as an individual - I've been very blessed, I was at the right place at the right time, more so than any Rugby World Cup captain before me and after me.

"What he did for the team was wonderful to watch - that air of confidence that he brought with him and that unbelievable humility that Madiba had is something that rubbed off - and I never thought he would wear a Springbok jersey!"

Current Springboks star Bryan Habana added on Twitter: "R.I.P Tata Madiba. Thank you for the inspiration and hope. May your legacy live on forever."

South African golfer Ernie hailed the former South African president as an "iconic leader".

"It is a very sad day, a very sad day for South Africa and the world," Els said.

"We have lost one of the iconic leaders of our time. You cannot say anything bad about the man.

"He fought for what he believed in, went to prison for so many years and came out to lead our country up until now. He was the father of our country and our continent."

Tiger Woods said on Twitter: "You will always be in my heart

"Mr. Mandela. Pop & I felt your aura when we met, I feel it today & I will feel it forever. You have done so much for humanity..."

In Australia, the hosts and England wore black armbands and observed a minute's silence ahead of the second day of the second Ashes Test.

Other legendary sporting names also added their own tributes.

Pele, Brazil's football great, said: "He was my hero, my friend, and also a companion to me in our fight for the people and for world peace."

South African golfer Gary Player tweeted: "Nelson Mandela's courage, forgiveness, love & hope inspired people around the world. He made me want to be a better man. RIP Tata."

Boxing was Mandela's favourite sport as a young man, and three-times world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, paid a special tribute on his website.

He said: "What I will remember most about Mr. Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge."

Jamaica's Usain Bolt, the world's fastest man, said on Twitter: "One of the greatest human beings ever. May your soul rest in peace. The world's greatest fighter."

Former sports minister Richard Caborn, secretary of the Parliamentary anti-apartheid group during the 1980s, said Mandela had played an important part in securing the 2012 Olympics for London.

Caborn travelled to Johannesburg in 2005, three months before the IOC vote, and secured his backing for London's bid.

Caborn told Press Association Sport: "I said to him 'Madiba, we are the only Commonwealth country bidding' and that was the key.

"He said he would love to support London and I think that was very important to the bid, and became part of the presentation at the vote in Singapore."

Sebastian Coe, chairman of the British Olympic Association and head of the London 2012 Games, said Mandela had been an inspiration.

Lord Coe said: "The values that are at the heart of sport - equality, opportunity and mutual understanding - are the very same values Nelson Mandela fought to instil and uphold. He lived his life with courage and conviction, and as we mourn his passing, we are grateful for the unending inspiration he has given us all."



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