Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Back on Robben Island — the men who changed the game

The year 1964 was a highly significant one in the fight against Apartheid: Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island and FIFA suspended South Africa from football because of the legalised racist policies of its Government.

If anyone had suggested then that one day FIFA's Executive Committee would meet on the outcrop off the coast of Cape Town on the eve of the draw for South Africa's World Cup, they would have been derided as a fantasist.

But that is exactly what happened on Thursday. FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the 24 most important men in world soccer, plus around 250 members of the media and other helpers, spent a day on the island where Mandela, and current South African President Jacob Zuma were incarcerated for years of their lives.

Thousands of opponents of the Apartheid regime were imprisoned on the island, but for FIFA, and for the world at large, Robben Island is not just a sombre place with a dreadful past, but it is also a symbol of hope.