Nelson Mandela: Football matches to have minute's applause

The death of Nelson Mandela

A minute's applause is to be held at Premier League matches in tribute to former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday aged 95.

Football fans in Scotland will also be asked to applaud at games, with similar plans for Football League and FA Cup second-round matches.

Saracens players will wear black armbands for their Heineken Cup rugby match at Italian side Zebre in Parma.

The club's chief executive is South African Edward Griffiths.

South Africa's 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar, who went on to play for Saracens, famously received the Webb Ellis Trophy from Mandela, who wore a Springbok shirt and cap.

"I will always be profoundly grateful for the personal role Nelson Mandela has played in my life, as my president and my example," said Pienaar on Friday.

All clubs playing in this weekend's Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup third round matches have been asked to observe a minute's silence before kick-off.

A minute's silence was held before the semi-final action started at the UK Snooker Championship in York on Friday afternoon.

The first weekend Premier League match is Manchester United against Newcastle (12:45 GMT), with six more Saturday games, two on Sunday, and Swansea v Hull on Monday.

The Football League has also asked its clubs to hold a minute's applause ahead of this weekend's games.

"The matches will be preceded by a minute's applause to mark the life and achievements of Nelson Mandela," said a Premier League spokesman.

Liverpool, who host West Ham, will be among the clubs paying tribute on Saturday.

Liverpool players with Nelson Mandela in 1994
Nelson Mandela, in a Liverpool shirt, with players and staff in 1994 including Steve Nicol, Robbie Fowler, John Barnes, David James, Bruce Grobbelaar and Neil Ruddock

In 1994, the Reds were greeted by Mandela when they went on a tour of South Africa.

"Even as a kid, I didn't have heroes that I would chase for their autograph," former winger John Barnes told the Liverpool website.

"But Mandela was different - he is the only man I have been properly in awe of."

South Africans and world leaders have been paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, who led the transition from white minority rule in his homeland.

Mr Mandela spent 27 years in jail before becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994.