Tutu: 2010 World Cup chance for unity


BERLIN — Archbishop Desmond Tutu believes the 2010 World Cup

is a good chance to demonstrate the gains South Africa

has made since the end of apartheid.

Tutu has long championed increased rights for minorities and

the importance of friendship across ethnic boundaries.

"This thing is as important as Obama getting into the White House,"

he told reporters Friday at the South African Embassy

in the German capital.

"For people of color everywhere, it would lift them."

The anti-apartheid stalwart was a thorn in the side of

the white government, helping to bring about

the end of apartheid in 1994 when

Nelson Mandela became the country's first black president.

The 77-year-old Tutu coined the phrase

"rainbow nation" to describe

South Africa's mix of races, cultures and languages.

Tutu said the World Cup — like the just-completed

Confederations Cup — will give South Africans the opportunity

to take pride in the steps their country

has taken in terms of social progress.

"That would be the greatest thing — helping

our people come together, seeing all of

our people with a new pride," he said.

The 1984 Nobel Peace Prize laureate recalled the excitement

that enveloped the country in 1995 when it hosted

the Rugby World Cup, ultimately winning

the tournament with a 15-12 upset of New Zealand.

"It did more for our country's reconciliation than all

my sermons for a year," he said, adding that sports go

a long way in promoting both racial and cultural unity.

"If human beings of all these different colors can

come together ... then there is hope

for the world," he said.

As to fears South Africa has fallen behind in building

the infrastructure for the World Cup,

Tutu said skepticism about its ability would be proven wrong.

"You know what? We've been free for only 15 years!

" he said. "Give us a chance!"

             J-L K.
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