I’m happy that Spain won the World Cup yesterday instead of the Netherlands.
There, I’ve said it. Spain was the better team and deserved to win. For the past two years I have enjoyed the way Spain played, and for me they are the best team in the world by far. But that is not the real reason why I’m happy about it. Instead, it has more to do with how the Dutch team approached the game, which has very little to do with football.
The fouls that Mark van Bommel made, and kept making even after his yellow card, most of them on Iniesta. The way he flopped when Iniesta stuck out his arm towards him. The way Nigel de Jong planted his boot into Xabi Alonso’s chest. The way Robben just kept whining for minutes after he was fouled by Puyol. The way the coach and players kept complaining about the referee after the match. The more I think about these moments, the more disappointed I am. No, the Spaniards were hardly saints themselves. The way Iniesta for example kept asking for yellow cards was highly annoying. And no, Howard Webb was hardly impeccable in his decisions. But they failed to mention that both van Bommel and de Jong should have gotten red cards in the first half. And the yellow cards were all deserved. Instead of pointing to the referee, they should also take some responsibility by admitting that they purposely provoked the Spanish players and that they let the match degrade into a brawling match at times. I hope that they will also read some foreign articles as well, and that they will realize that the world is almost unanimous in their negative verdict on how they played and behaved. The Dutch team lost a lot of hard-earned respect around the world yesterday.
If this approach is the price for winning the World Cup, then give me back the old Oranje. I still have many, many fond memories of those Dutch teams of old, even if they always did manage to lose in the most dramatic ways possible. If this Dutch team had won yesterday, it would have left me with a very bitter taste instead. But I don’t want to romanticize the past; I was actually more than happy with the more realistic way the Dutch team played throughout the tournament, as it was definitely a big reason for the success (along with a bit of luck). But they blatantly crossed the line yesterday. Now let us hope it was merely an incident, brought about by the immense and unfamiliar pressure of being in a World Cup final…