The Reign of Spain

Spain Wins World CupSo it is "Ole! Ole-Ole-Ole!"  that is ringing out across Spain and everywhere there are fans of the now-World Cup Champions for 2010.

Spain claimed its first ever world soccer title with a 1-0 extra-time victory over the Netherlands in Sunday’s final in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It was a rough game, with the Dutch having played very aggressively, tackling dangerously-hard, taking legs out from under Spanish forwards, and, in general, playing what some described as "dirty football."  They said they felt they had to be aggressive in an effort to stop Spain from its famous "keep-away" tactics of ball possession.

The hard tackling and repeated fouls and holding resulted in 13 "yellow-cards" or cautions handed out by the referee during the match. Eight were slapped on the Dutch, and by the final minutes, they were forced to play one-man short as a result of all the "carding."

With the man-advantage, Spain was able to capitalize, as Andres Iniesta scored the winner with four minutes left in a thirty-minute extra period, giving Spain the 1-nil victory and preventing the match from being decided on penalty-kicks.

Observers around the world were critical of the way the championship game was played, saying the final was "not good football." Among the critics was Sepp Blatter, the boss of FIFA, the world governing body for football, who said it was "a shame," and that a "lack of fair play" in his view, spoiled the final. Even former Dutch superstar, Johan Cruyff, who led the Netherlands to World Cup final appearances in 1974 and 1978, was unimpressed with the play of his countrymen, calling it "dirty and ugly" and he added that Spain deserved the victory.

For their part, the Spaniards are just happy to be home, with the victory and with the trophy. They have the coveted golden statue in their hands for the first time in the 80-year history of the tournament, and they become just the eighth team in the world ever to win it.

The team flew to Spain immediately from South Arica to begin celebrating with their fans. When their plane arrived at Madrid’s Barajas Airport on Monday morning, goalkeeper and team captain, Iker Casillas, was first to emerge and he raised the World Cup trophy for the hundreds of cheering airport workers who began chanting "Campeones" or "Champions" as the players filed off into the 100-degree heat.

The squad had an audience with the Spanish King, Juan Carlos, and later with the country’s Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and then set off for an open-topped bus tour around the capital city where throngs of people lined the streets, cheering, singing and waving flags. The bus tour would be followed by a giant rally on a specially set-up stage on the banks of the Manzanares river where hundreds of thousands of fans gathered.

Suffice it to say, there will be quite a "fiesta" going on in Spain this week.

And it’s safe to assume that the players are happy for another reason.  In addition to the huge salaries they will return to at their individual clubs like Real Madrid, and Barcelona FC, the FIFA organization gives 31-million Euros to the Spanish Soccer Federation for the World Cup victory. Each of the 23 players will receive 600,000 Euros, or  $756,000 USD for their victory.  Ole!


Nice pay for a month’s work. That might just put another luxury car in the driveway, and certainly afford them any luxury car rental in any city they choose!




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