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The BBC estimated that a worldwide audience of 700 million people, plus 84,000 in the stadium, watched the FIFA 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Even though I’m officially a “footie” (I’m very proud of the title my brother Jeff recently gave me), I didn’t watch the game as I had to work. C’est la vie… I was surprised to see that most of the security guards showed up too! As expected it was a very quiet Sunday. There was a large group of Korean American Ladies, a few female family groups, but very few males.
I asked a family from New Zealand why they weren’t watching the game, and they told me that their team, the All Blacks, beat the Springboks 32-12 on Saturday in the first game of the Tri-Nations Rugby title (between Australia’s Wallabees, New Zealand’s All Blacks, and South Africa’s Springboks), and that was all they cared about.
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Neither the Netherlands nor Spain have ever won the Cup before (although this was the third time the Dutch have played in the finals) which explains why thousands of Spanish and Dutch fans tried desperately to get last minute airplane tickets to South Africa, and why an estimated 85.9% of the Spanish TV audience (or about 15.6m people) watched the game, making it the most watched television broadcast in Spanish history.
Among the spectators to watch the game were members of the Dutch and Spanish royal families, heads of state from across Africa, including South African President Jacob Zuma, and ex-president Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, tennis star Rafael Nadal, actor Morgan Freeman, my nephew K (the lucky fellow flew in from the UK), and my friend David Shapiro.
Spain won with a goal in the last minutes of extra time. The month-long FIFA World Cup came down to one moment, and one player – Andrés Iniesta – who managed to kick in one decisive goal. I feel sorry for the Netherlands team, although according all the reports I read no one moves the ball as well as Spain, and they deserved to win football’s greatest prize.
David Pleat of the Guardian said the Spanish team played clever football “which involves inter changing of movement, people running off the ball and incisive passing”.
Did you know that of the 76 countries that have played in the World Cup, only 8 have won the cup, Brazil a record 5 times?
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And of course I can’t write about the World Cup without mentioning Paul, the German octopus who correctly predicted all of Germany’s games, and forecast that Spain would beat Holland in Sunday’s final.
During the feeding, where he had to chose from two seashells, each contained in a plastic box with the Spanish and the Dutch flag on them, Paul picked Spain.
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July 09, 2010 – Oberhausen, Germany. Soccer oracle Octopus Paul, predicts a victory for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final. © 2010 ZumaPress All rights reserved.