Before the Cup semi-final against Real Sociedad, President Bartomeu gave Francois Pienaar, former player and captain South Africa’s rugby World Cup winning team, an FC Barcelona rugby kit. Paco Peña, the technical director of the team, and Stacy Duvenage were present.
The legendary No.6 of the South African rugby team received the the world champions trophy from Nelson Mandela in 1995. After the award ceremony, Pienaar thanked Mandela in a conversation that’s made its way into the history books: “Thank you, François, for what you’ve done for this country,” started Mandela. Pienaar responded: “No, Mr president, thank you for what you’ve done for our country.”
The competition allowed Mandela, who was elected president the year prior, to unite the country through sport. South Africa’s motto for the tournament was “one sport, one country.” After the championship match, Pienaar explained that the team won “not only for the people in the stadium, but for the everyone in South Africa.”
After Nelson Mandela’s funeral, Francois Pienaar explained, “Nelson Mandela was the most extraordinary and incredible human being, not only because he unified a country when it seemed impossible, but also because, through his humanity, he inspired hundreds of millions of people throughout the world.”