x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

World Cup diary: No decision on who will present the trophy

Fifa has not yet decided who will present the World Cup trophy to the winning captain on Sunday.

Fifa has not yet decided who will present the World Cup trophy to the winning captain on Sunday. Nelson Mandela, the former South Africa president, is likely to perform the honour if the 91-year-old anti-apartheid figure is well enough to attend the match at Soccer City. But Nicolas Maingot, a Fifa spokesman, said yesterday there is "no information on this so far."

Simon Wright, a British tabloid journalist, will go to trial in a South African court after prosecutors rejected his bid to have charges related to the tournament dropped. Wright was arrested and charged with helping Pavlos Joseph illegally enter the England dressing room after their goalless draw against Algeria in Cape Town on June 18. The reporter, who had to surrender his passport and has to report to Cape Town police station every day, will be asked to plea when his trial starts on Saturday in the Cape Town Magistrates court. Joseph agreed to pay a 750 rand (Dh357) fine and prosecutors dropped criminal proceedings against the England fan last week. Wright is a reporter for the Sunday Mirror, who sent the London-based lawyer Paul Mottram to assist their employee's defence.

World Cup organisers promise a high-tech closing ceremony featuring pop star Shakira, compared to the more traditionally African ceremony which opened the tournament. Jermaine Craig, an organising committee spokesman, said Sunday's show at Soccer City will be "more youthful and a bit more technologically advanced" than the June 11 opening ceremony. Shakira, the Colombian pop singer, will perform the official tournament anthem Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).

The total attendences for the World Cup passed the three million-mark at the Germany-Spain match last night. Fifa says 2,997,000 people attended the previous 61 matches, for an average of 49,134. The figures place South Africa third in both categories, behind the 1994 tournament in the United States and the 2006 edition in Germany since the World Cup was expanded to at least 24 teams and 52 matches in 1982. The 1994 World Cup set records with 3.59 million fans.

Vuvuzelas, the plastic horns,which will forever by synonymous with this World Cup, have been banned in New Zealand for Saturday's Tri Nations rugby union Test match between the All Blacks and South Africa in Auckland.

Inter Milan have no intention of listening to offers for playmaker Wesley Sneijder amid reported interest from Manchester United, Massimo Moratti, the Inter president, said yesterday. Sneijder was instrumental in Inter winning the Champions League and a domestic double last term while he has helped guide Holland to the World Cup final. Asked if United had made a bid for the Dutchman, Moratti told reporters: "I think so but I don't know. I didn't want to ask too much about it so as not to fall into temptation."

Amsterdam authorities say they expect at least 100,000 football fans to flock to Museum Square to watch Holland's first final in 32 years. The Dutch have never won the World Cup, but reached the final in 1974 and 1978. Also, a huge screen will be erected at the North Sea Jazz Festival, which brings top international musicians to Rotterdam for one of Europe's largest annual music events. Organisers fear that the football will siphon off attendance. Win or lose Sunday's final, the players will be welcomed home on Tuesday with a massive parade through Amsterdam's canals. At least 1.5 million people - twice the city's resident population - are expected to attend.

Nigeria's anti-corruption agency said it is investigating current and former leaders of the nation's football federation. Femi Babafemi, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission spokesman, told the Associated Press that the investigation centres on Sani Lulu, the former president, and Amanze Ugbulam, the former vice president. Babafemi said yesterday that investigators are also looking at Taiwo Ogunjobi, a former technical committee member, and Bolaji Ojo-Oba, the current general secretary. Babafemi made his comments after Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigeria president, backed down on his threat to suspend the federation after Nigeria's poor performance at the World Cup.