Robben Island FIFA meeting historic, says Blatter

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cape Town - FIFA President Sepp Blatter has described today's meeting of the football body's Executive Committee, on Robben Island, as historic.

"Those that follow the history of the new Republic of South Africa will know the historical relevance of the Robben Island. The meeting will be a very historical moment that I will share with you," Blatter told media on Wednesday.

The FIFA delegation will be joined by President Jacob Zuma and Minister of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale, who were incarcerated in island's maximum-security prison, and a contingent of local and international media.

Former South African President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nelson Mandela spent 27 years on the island. The tour will include a visit to Mandela's prison cell.

Political prisoners on Robben Island used soccer as a way of survival during the period of their incarceration. The players, including current Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, formed a team called the Makana Football Association.

In 2007, FIFA awarded the Makana Football Association "Associate Member" status of world football's governing body.

The meeting later today, which is expected to be chaired by Blatter, will focus on the final preparations towards the 2010 Final Draw on Friday, where the match schedule for the World Cup will be drawn.

The FIFA Executive will also receive reports on the 2009 FIFA competitions such as the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt, the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria and the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai.

They will also receive updates on upcoming events including the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009 and the FIFA World Player Gala 2009.

Zambian journalist, George Banda, who is in South Africa for the FIFA Final Draw said he was excited about the Robben Island tour. "It has always been my childhood dream to visit a place like Robben Island because it has a lot of history about the African continent, I look forward to it."