Friday’s party favors awaitAP Photo
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Nelson Mandela will address soccer officials by video message at Friday’s World Cup draw, while Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South African Oscar winner Charlize Theron will attend the event in person.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke also will welcome former South African President Frederik W. de Klerk at the International Convention Center.
The 91-year-old Mandela, the former president, is frail and makes few public appearances. Mandela and de Klerk shared the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for their role in ending apartheid.
Part-time Galaxy player David Beckham, who scored in three consecutive World Cups, is also expected to attend. He hopes to make the England squad for the June event.
South African President Jacob Zuma will start off the 1 hour show. The draw, led by Valcke, will set up the eight groups of four teams.
Thousands of guests will attend the draw, which will be televised in numerous countries.
From Greece to Japan, Ghana to New Zealand, soccer fans have been waiting to find out what teams their country will face in the opening round of the World Cup, which starts June 11.
Valcke will swirl the balls in the pot and come up with combinations of groups that will look fortunate for some and cruel to others.
One spot is secure. Host South Africa will kick off the tournament at the Soccer City Stadium on June 11, and play its other first-round matches at Pretoria and Bloemfontein.
After the draw, FIFA expects a global rush on tickets.
“It is the kickoff for all people who are waiting and looking, knowing where they should fly
and in what cities they should stay,” Valcke said.
Other guests include former greats Michel Platini, the current UEFA president, and Franz Beckenbauer, who has won the World Cup for West Germany as a player and coach.
Hosting the World Cup is widely seen as a coming of age for South Africa, which has made giant strides since Mandela became the first president of the desegregated nation in 1994.
Underscoring the historic feat, Makhaya Ntini, the first black player in South Africa’s
national cricket team, will be assisting the draw. He’ll be joined by Matthew Booth, the only white player on the Bafana Bafana national soccer team during the Confederations Cup.
“We cannot wait for Friday to arrive,” Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said. “It will be a wonderful show.”
What you need to know about the draw:
*ESPN2 will show it from 9 a.m. to noon with the show hosted by Bob Ley and also featuring former World Cup stars Efan Ekoku, John Harkes, Alexi Lalas and Steve McManaman. Jeremy Schaap files live reports throughout the day from the Cape Town International Convention Center in South Africa, site of the draw.
*Also included will be an interview with U.S. striker Charlie Davies, seriously injured in an automobile accident in the outskirts of Washington, D.C., on the eve of the last U.S. World Cup qualifier, as well as interviews and reaction from U.S. Coach Bob Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Beckham and newly-hired ESPN World Cup play-by-play commentator Martin Tyler, who has called all World Cups since 1978.
*A list of Southern California viewing parties is here.
*ESPN launched a dedicated World Cup Web site today.
Finally, the Los Angeles City Council voted today to submit a bid for Los Angeles to
become a host city of the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.
“I hope we get it,” said Councilman Tom LaBonge. “The Memorial Coliseum is the place to play.”
Actually, Tom, it’s fairly obvious you don’t get it, if you’d actually tried to watch a game from the cruddy Coliseum in recent years. Maybe we’ll have an NFL stadium by then, though.