A GROUP of international statesmen and women brought together by Nelson Mandela have expressed excitement about but also some concerns over the prospect of the first World Cup being held in Africa.
The Elders include Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter and the first woman president of Ireland, Mary Robinson.
Human rights campaigner and Mandela's wife, Graça Machel, said Africa was often portrayed negatively and the World Cup was an opportunity for it to be seen in a positive light.
"Sports can express some of the best values we carry as a human family," she said.
Robinson was concerned about small street vendors being pushed aside during the tournament.
Vendors and their advocates have complained that the restrictions on activity near stadiums decided on by Fifa, the international football body, make it difficult for hawkers to make a living.
Robinson also said the World Cup would draw attention to the problem of human trafficking.
There have been concerns trafficking will increase during the World Cup because of the demand for sex workers.
The elders also addressed crises in Zimbabwe and Israel. Jimmy Carter described Zimbabwe as "a tragedy waiting to be solved" and called for elections scheduled there next year to be fair.
Carter said the outcome of the poll should be accepted peacefully.
Overnight, Israeli troops stormed at least one ship in a flotilla of vessels carrying 10000 tons of relief supplies to Gaza. The Elders strongly condemned the Israeli attack, saying the violence should draw the world's attention to the suffering of Gaza's 1,5million people, most of whom are children. - Sapa-AP