Spain lauded, Dutch castigated for 'brutal' World Cup final

12 July 2010 - 13:42 By Mike Swanson, Sapa-dpa

The world's press on Monday saluted Spain for their first ever World Cup title while the Dutch opponents in Sunday's final were criticised for their rough play.

"Spain's exquisite movement proved too much for one-dimensional Holland," Britain's Daily Telegraph wrote. "(Mark) van Bommel and (Nigel) de Jong led a ferocious assault on Spain's artistry. It wasn't pretty, in fact it bordered on the criminal."

The Guardian went a step further, calling on the sport's ruling body to take action against a team that ended the tournament with 22 yellow cards, 10 more than their nearest rivals.

"Holland were already being rebuked prior to the final but these events were on a wholly different scale and Fifa should take additional action considering the harm done to the culmination of a tournament that means so much around the globe," the Guardian wrote.

"After a World Cup final of so toxic a nature the stadium is in need of decontamination more than the regular clean-up," it added.

The Irish Times also commented on the niggly aspects of the game: "The South African winter had a nasty nip in it last night, and Spain and the Netherlands caught the mood, snarling and hissing at each other through much of soccers showpiece final."

German mass-circulation Bild called football's showcase event "a kicking match," blaming the Dutch for the rough play.

Congratulating Spain on their 1-0 victory, the daily said "that was an ugly final."

The newspaper also had a special word of praise for Paul, the oracle octopus who correctly predicted the winner as well as the outcome of all seven matches played by third place team Germany.

Die Welt, another German daily said: "Spain play the best football in the world," pointing out that the final only lived up to its name in the dying stages.

"Fans had to wait 116 minutes until the Dutch and the Spaniards showed us what football is about. A goal from Andres Iniesta helped Spain to the become world champions in extra time when everyone thought the game was heading to a penalty shootout," it wrote.

Under the headline "The Real Galacticos," the French daily L'Equipe wrote, "In the past two years, (the Spanish side) often played much better than last night, but we have the right to believe that everything it has done well for so long was finally rewarded."

South Africa's Cape Times said: "Spain bring World Cup to thrilling climax as Ole Ole Ole finally rises above vuvuzelas. The 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup reached a fitting climax at Soccer City last night with fans treated to an extra half hour of play before Spain managed to triumph over the Netherlands."

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport called Spain the new conquistadors, or conquerors. "European champions Spain is now World Champion," it wrote. "Iniesta did not disappoint, but it was an ugly final."

Dutch papers played down the unsporting aspect of the final, with the Telegraaf saying the Dutch team "fought like lions." It also raised the question whether Spain's goal should have been disallowed because of an offside infringement shortly beforehand.

"Netherlands silver, Spain gold," wrote the daily Trouw. "What began as a happy festival in towns and villages ended with one big hangover ... It was a competitive, not a brilliant game. Both teams were too nervous to deliver an advertisement for football."

Spanish sports dailies were in rapture, with Marca praising a "Golden Generation" that "learned how to win in 2008 (winning the European Championship) and is now the best team in the world."

Marca was very critical of the Dutch team for their "brutal, intimidatory tactics," and of English referee Howard Webb for not being "more rigorous with them."

Rival daily AS, for its part, said that "Spanish football is great because it has profound and extensive roots, that have been growing for more than 100 years ... and now they are finally flowering."