Mandela's presence at World Cup's final day uncertain

The 2010 World Cup will close Sunday evening much as it began: With Colombian pop star Shakira performing to a packed house, and former South African president Nelson Mandela's attendance the subject of intense speculation.

The 30-minute closing ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. local time (12:30 p.m. EDT) at Johannesburg's Soccer City Stadium and be broadcast live to an estimated global audience of 500 million.

Shakira is scheduled to perform the World Cup anthem "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" with South Africa's Freshlyground, a song she debuted at the June 10 opening concert. Other artists on the bill: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Jozi, Stoan Seate, Slikour, Zuluboy, Nigeria's 2Face, Ghana's Samini and popular local traditional group Ihashi Elimhlophe. The production is said to be more edgy and youthful than the traditional production that opened the tournament.

After the ceremony, Spain and the Netherlands will kick off in an all-European final that will produce a first-time World Cup champion. The Netherlands has reached the final twice without hoisting the trophy, in 1974 and 1978. Spain, the reigning European champion, is making its first appearance in the final.

The greatest source of speculation for Sunday is whether Mandela, who turns 92 on July 18, will attend and possibly present the World Cup trophy to the victors.

It was unclear whether Mandela, who is in ailing health, intended to attend the June 11 opening ceremony. But any notion was ruled out following the death of his 13-year-old great-granddaughter Zenani, killed in a car accident while returning from the concert the night before.

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