A triumphant Nelson Mandela was draped in his national flag, while back home bells tolled and crowds sang in the streets. The World Cup, finally, is headed to South Africa.
Mandela's country was awarded the 2010 tournament yesterday, the first time soccer's treasured prize will be played in Africa.
South Africa beat Morocco and Egypt in a vote by the executive committee of the sport's governing body, FIFA. In balloting four years ago for the 2006 World Cup, South Africa lost to Germany by one vote.
"We can all applaud Africa," FIFA President Sepp Blatter said. "The victor is football. The victor is Africa."
South Africa received 14 votes during the first round, while Morocco had 10, and Egypt none. As part of a new plan to rotate the event among continents, FIFA decided only African nations could contend for this World Cup.
Tunisia, which wanted to co-host with Libya, withdrew its bid Friday. Libya was eliminated by FIFA yesterday.
South Africa, rated the best candidate in a report by FIFA, has nine stadiums in place and four more to be refurbished. It hosted last year's cricket World Cup and the 1995 Rugby World Cup. The country's high crime rate was considered the biggest drawback.
This was one of the final public appearances for the frail, 85-year-old Mandela, who championed South Africa's bid. He has said that during the apartheid era one of his few joys in prison was listening to World Cup soccer games on radio.
"I feel like a young man of 50," said Mandela, who hoisted the World Cup trophy after South Africa's victory was announced. Fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu embraced Blatter.
Even before Blatter could declare the winner, the words "South Africa" were drowned out by supporters who saw what was written in large letters on the card. Mandela sat in the front row, draped by his flag, as South Africans chanted "Madiba, Madiba," his tribal name.
In South Africa, the announcement was broadcast live on outdoor screens. Champagne corks popped at soccer stadiums, public squares and community centers as blacks and whites united in jubilation.
"Let's all go out and celebrate," President Thabo Mbeki, raising a champagne glass, told a crowd of dancing, singing fans in Pretoria.
The South African bid committee has estimated the World Cup will be worth $3.1 billion to the nation's economy and create 160,000 jobs.
* ARSENAL UNBEATEN: Arsenal completed the first undefeated league season in 115 years at the top level of English soccer, rallying for a 2-1 home victory against Leicester.
Arsenal (26-0-12) already had clinched the Premier League title and finished with 90 points. It matched the undefeated feat of Preston North End in 1889, but that club won only 18 and tied four.
"I always had that dream and to fulfill it is marvelous," Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger said. "It is my third title and the best one. Not to lose is amazing."
Chelsea (24-7-7) finished second with 79 points and Manchester United (23-9-6) was third with 75. Fourth-place Liverpool had 60 points and fifth-place Newcastle had 56.
Italy's AC Milan in 1992 was the last to pull off an undefeated league season in one of Europe's top five leagues, going 22-0-12. It has never happened in the German Bundesliga, and it's been more than 70 years since it happened in Spain.
"It may take 20 years for people to realize what we have done," said Thierry Henry, widely regarded as the world's top striker.