South African icon Nelson Mandela personally hailed Ghana’s ousted World Cup team on Saturday, as socialite Paris Hilton’s marijuana arrest gave a celebrity drama twist to the quarterfinals.
The former president welcomed the Black Stars at his Johannesburg home the day after they crashed out of the tournament in a thrilling penalty shoot-out with Uruguay.
“They represented the continent well and although they did not qualify for the semifinals they can return home with their heads held high,” the 91-year-old’s office said in a statement.
The meeting at Mandela’s house came after Hilton’s midnight court drama competed for press attention with mourning over the end of Africa’s World Cup dreams.
The American party girl was arrested for alleged possession of marijuana at a World Cup match in Port Elizabeth but a judge tossed out the charges against her after her friend, former Playboy Playmate Jennifer Rovero, pleaded guilty.
South African authorities said on Saturday that Rovero had 14 days to leave the country or face deportation.
“She is prohibited to enter the country again until the decision has been overturned on appeal and she can only do so (appeal) after two years,” said Ronnie Mamoepa, spokesman for the home affairs ministry.
The pair was arrested at the Brazil-Netherlands quarter-final in Port Elizabeth after police smelt marijuana and approached the women. In a Twitter post, Hilton played down the incident and said she still loved South Africa.