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Conflicting Reports Surface Over Mandela's Attendance at World Cup


South African officials say Nelson Mandela will attend the kickoff of football's World Cup next week, but his family is reported to be saying otherwise.

South Africa's sports minister and ruling party announced Thursday that the revered anti-apartheid leader, 91 years old, will be present when the World Cup begins June 11 in Johannesburg.

However, the French news agency AFP quotes Mr. Mandela's grandson as saying people need to consider his grandfather's health, and that Mr. Mandela will not be at the opening match.

There has been no direct word on the controversy from Mr. Mandela himself. The former South African president met with the country's national football (soccer) team in Johannesburg Thursday.

He greeted the team's players wearing a yellow Bafana Bafana team jersey with the captain's number four on it.

Although Mr. Mandela has scaled down his appearances in recent years, he helped campaign for the World Cup to be held in his home country.

Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, the international football federation, said it is fitting that Mr. Mandela will be able to attend.

Mr. Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end apartheid and promote racial reconciliation in South Africa. He was elected president in 1994, ending white minority rule in South Africa.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters..

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