JOHANNESBURG (AFP) South Africa began its long farewell to the World Cup with a celebration parade Friday through the streets of Soweto, two days ahead of the decisive final between the Netherlands and Spain. The three-kilometre (two-mile) procession of brightly coloured floats inspired by football themes was led by children dancing around a giant replica of Soccer City and a puppet of Mama Africa. Carnival in Soweto is normally the last day of the year, but because of the World Cup, its now, said Maphiwe Ndaba as the parade rolled by. Its good that soccer carnival came to Soweto. Many people can enjoy it. They can celebrate soccer. Beginning at a modern shopping mall and ending in a plaza flanked by a posh hotel, the route was another expression of the new South Africa that the nation has projected around the globe during the tournament. The township was a hotbed of resistance to the white-minority apartheid regime, but now the showpiece stadium Soccer City sits at its doorstep, highlighting Johannesburgs steady transformation 16 years after the first all-race elections. President Jacob Zuma has praised the social unity inspired by the World Cup, though some already wonder how long that spirit will last. It feels like you are in a World Cup finale, said Evans Shivambu, along the parade route. But after, it will be quiet and there wont be any whites any more in Soweto. Sports authorities, however, have already moved an international rugby test match to Soccer City, saying they hope to provide a way for white and black fans to keep mixing in the stands. For the weekend of the final, major hotel chains reported that they were fully booked throughout Gauteng, the province that includes Johannesburg and the nearby capital Pretoria. FIFA says tickets to the match are sold out, while the global television audience is expected to reach 500 million viewers. Colombian pop star Shakira will headline the closing ceremony ahead of the match, where 15 heads of state are expected to attend most controversially Zimbabwes President Robert Mugabe, target of a European and US travel ban. South Africas biggest Hollywood star Charlize Theron has reportedly arrived back home for the final, along with Morgan Freeman, who played Nelson Mandela in last years film Invictus. Airport officials warned the VIPs that they would maintain stricter policies for private jets ahead of the final, after a logjam in landing spots caused delays for six commercial aircraft, making some fans miss Spains semi-final victory over Germany. Transport authorities were also warning fans to make plans to arrive early for the game, preferably on public transport, with commuter trains offering free rides to ticket holders. FIFA says overall attendance at all World Cup matches has topped three million, only the third tournament to do so, partly because of the enormous stadiums that South Africa built for the games. Leading football journalist dies Robert Millward, head of Associated Presss global football coverage, died here on Thursday aged just 58 of a suspected heart attack, the wire agencys sports editor announced on Friday. Millward, married with no children, had been suffering from hyper-tension. We are stunned, very sad, APs sports editor Simon Haydon told AFP. Robert was well known by football journalists all round the world. He was a passionate follower of the sport, there were never enough matches for him to go and see. Millward, born in England and based in London, had worked at AP since 1984 and was covering his seventh World Cup finals - he had also regularly covered other major sporting events including several Summer Olympics. Africa can be proud, South Africa even more so and African football can also be proud, FIFA president Sepp Blatter told a news conference. We are almost at the end, but I am a satisfied president. South Africa has also overcome fears about crime during the tournament. The country has a staggering crime rate, with an average 50 murders a day, but only a handful of violent crimes have been linked to the World Cup.