The trophy stopped off in Zimbabwe on its journey through all 53 African countries ahead of next year’s South Africa World Cup.
Mugabe said he was tempted to keep the trophy because “this could be our gold.”
"Britain does not have any gold, neither does Germany. I am tempted to think that [the gold] came from Africa, and from Zimbabwe, and was taken away by adventurers who shaped it into this cup," Mugabe was quoted by The New Zimbabwe news service.
Local human rights activists attacked FIFA for giving Mugabe the spotlight. The country’s president is accused of conducting a “reign of terror” through his controversial policies and oppressive regime.
Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, said FIFA should never have scheduled the stop in Zimbabwe.
"It’s a symbol of sporting excellence and the trophy every world leader craves to hold in their lifetime,” he was quoted in the Guardian newspaper.
“They could have sent a political message by keeping it away from Zimbabwe. But with this, Mugabe was able to say the World Cup will come and go and he will still be there."
The only stop in Zimbabwe for the World Cup was Harare Airport, where the ceremony was held late Thursday. It was the closest a Zimbabwean will get to raising the trophy in triumph. The Warriors, Zimbabwe’s national football team, failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
Chilean dispute resolved
Chile are assured of a berth at the World Cup after club side Rangers dropped a court case that threatened the national team with expulsion from the tournament.
FIFA put pressure on the Chilean football federation to take action, warning that it was prepared to kick Chile out of the World Cup unless Rangers withdrew the court case.
According to FIFA statutes, clubs, players, officials and football organizations must take disputes to sports arbitration panels rather than civil courts.
The row erupted when Rangers were deducted three points for using six instead of the maximum five foreign players in a league match earlier this month. The decision led to their relegation to the second division, but the club contested the decision and brought its appeal to a Chilean court.
Ticket sales problems for South Africa 2010
According to organizers of the 2010 World Cup, only 20 per cent of tickets for the event have been sold. Organizers said Thursday that only 671,000 of the three million tickets available were sold.
This is an increase of just 40,000 tickets sold since the last ticket sales figures were released in June.
Despite the large number of tickets still on sale, South Africa 2010 CEO Danny Jordaan remained confident they will be snapped up. He anticipates a surge in interest due to low prices.
Jordaan insisted that the ticket sales so far were “satisfactory”.
When asked about the prospect of free tickets, Jordaan scoffed at the suggestion. "There should not be questions of free tickets. Those don’t exist. If you start talking about free tickets, you’re implying that there will be some left, which I really doubt,” he told reporters.