Minute's applause for Mandela

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.

Mandela

FIFA said there would be a minute's silence as a mark of respect ahead of the next round of international football matches, while the International Olympic Committee has lowered the Olympic flag for three days in memory of Mandela, South Africa's first black president who has died aged 95.

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

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.

Pienaar said: "Nelson Mandela was the most extraordinary and incredible human being, not only because he united his country when such a task seemed impossible but also because, through his unique humanity, he inspired hundreds of millions of people across the globe.

"It was my great fortune and privilege to receive the Webb Ellis Cup from Madiba at the conclusion of the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, creating what has become an iconic image of national success, unity and reconciliation that resonates with all South Africans.

"I will always be profoundly grateful for the personal role Nelson Mandela has played in my life, as my President and my example."

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."

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."

Motherwell and Celtic fans held a minute's applause for Mandela before their teams met in the Scottish Premiership at Fir Park on Friday night, with several banners hailing the former South Africa leader in the away end, and other Scottish fans will follow on Saturday.

A Scottish Professional Football League statement read: "We recommend that a minute of applause is held before all SPFL fixtures this weekend as a mark of respect for and to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela."



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