Nelson Mandela Greets Fans at World Cup Final

Updated at 1:50 p.m. EDT.

Nelson Mandela greeted fans ahead of Sunday's World Cup final at Soccer City in Johannesburg, earning a huge round of applause in the country he helped sheppard into democracy.

The 91-year-old anti-apartheid icon was then to go home and watch the final between Spain and Netherlands, his grandson Mandla Mandela told The Associated Press.

Mandela was driven onto the field on the back of a golf cart near the end of an elaborate closing ceremony which featured a host of world-class musicians and a light display.

The elderly statesman wore a big fur hat and was wrapped up tight against the South African winter night as he shook hands, waved and smiled for the cameras.

"He said that he wants to come out and greet fans at the stadium," Mandla said said earlier, adding that the former South African president was resting Sunday afternoon so he could be "fresh and energetic" for the appearance. The match between Spain and the Netherlands was to kick off at 8:30 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. EDT).

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Mandela has kept a low profile during the month-long tournament, having decided against attending the opening game on June 11 following the death of his great-granddaughter.

Earlier, Mandla Mandela criticized FIFA for putting "extreme pressure" on the man who led South Africa out of apartheid to attend the World Cup final.

He said FIFA was being "inconsiderate," given that the family is still in mourning.

"My grandfather has recently lost a great-granddaughter and the family is in mourning," Mandla said. "They should be appraised of our customs and traditions."

Mandela's 13-year-old great-granddaughter, Zenani Mandela, was killed in a car crash while returning from the World Cup opening concert.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said it would be "wonderful" for Mandela to be at the final, having been instrumental in bringing the first World Cup to Africa.
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