BOGOTA -- Soccer great Pele believes the presence of aging former president Nelson Mandela could be key to some security issues during the World Cup in South Africa.
Pele told reporters Saturday in Colombia that he was worried about the health of the 91-year-old Mandela, who has served as a uniting figure for all South Africans.
Pele also said the attack in Angola on a bus carrying Togo's national team raised security questions, a suggestion that South African officials have already rejected.
"What happened with Togo had an effect on the World Cup organization," Pele said. "I hope it turns out well. People are worried about Nelson Mandela's health. He's a man that has the support of all South Africans. He has control over everything.
"The biggest worry at FIFA is if something happens to Mandela," Pele added.
Pele was in Colombia to promote the Copa Libertadores, the South American club championship.
His latest comments are sure to irritate Danny Jordaan, the chief executive of the World Cup organizing committee. Jordaan said just after the Togo attack over a week ago that it was unfair to link security problems in Angola to South Africa's preparations.
Despite Jordaan's statement, South African officials have been asked to explain why similar violence can't happen when the World Cup opens on June 11.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press