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Mandela appears at closing ceremony

JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela waved to the crowd at Soccer City as South Africa bid farewell to the 2010 World Cup in an emotional and joyous ceremony Sunday.

The anti-apartheid icon, 91, kept a low profile during the tournament, deciding against attending the opener June 11 after the death of his great-granddaughter in a traffic accident following a World Cup concert.

Driven in a small golf cart and seated alongside his wife, Graca Machel, the smiling, warmly dressed Mandela was welcomed by a thunderous roar from the crowd. He shook hands with officials before leaving the field a few minutes later.

Mandela's family said world governing body FIFA put him under "extreme pressure" to attend the final, which he wound up watching on TV from his home in Johannesburg. FIFA president Sepp Blatter backed South Africa's bid to play host.

Pop star Shakira performed, as did South Africa's Grammy Award-winning vocal group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Heads of state from across Africa attended the ceremony, including South Africa's Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

Dutch and Spanish royals were also present, as were Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. They rubbed shoulders with the likes of model Naomi Campbell, tennis star Rafael Nadal and Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman, who recently portrayed Mandela in Invictus.

WINNING PARTY: A roaring celebration rocked Spain, with nearly 300,000 in the capital's downtown forming a sea of red and yellow, the colors of the national flag, in tribute to their first World Cup title.

The country's flag and team colors were in full display on Paseo de Recoletos boulevard in Madrid as hordes watched the match live on giant TV screens.

Parties jammed town squares across the country, from Zaragoza in the northeast to Seville in the southwest. The celebrations were easily the biggest in the country in living memory.

One banner read "Octopus Paul, Forever!" and featured a crudely drawn picture of the octopus from Germany who became a pop culture sensation by correctly "predicting" matches. He was right again about the final, picking the Spanish flag out of a glass tank.

AWARDS: Uruguay F Diego Forlan earned the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player, and Germany F Thomas Mueller won the Golden Boot as the top scorer.

Nicknamed "Cachavacha" after a comic character, Forlan scored five goals and inspired Uruguay to the semifinals, earning the vote from accredited media covering the tournament.

Mueller takes home the Golden Boot with five goals and three assists — the assists were the tiebreaker, as Forlan, Spain's David Villa and the Netherlands' Wesley Sneijder also had five goals.

Mueller, 20, also was named best young player. Spain's Iker Casillas won the Golden Glove as the top goalkeeper.

Fast facts

World Cup 2014

What: 20th FIFA World Cup

Where: Brazil

When: June-July (exact dates TBA)

Cities: Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio De Janeiro, Salvador, Sao Paulo

Mandela appears at closing ceremony 07/11/10 [Last modified: Sunday, July 11, 2010 9:06pm]
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