¡Madre mia!

It's funny that although the main story is, of course, that Spain won the World Cup for the first time ever last night, what most people are talking about is not Hiniesta's 116th minute goal, referee Howard Webb's questionable decisions, or even Pulpo Paul's amazing predictions, but the moment when the Spanish goalkeeper grabbed the journalist who was interviewing him and gave her a passionate kiss. That image will stay with most of us who were watching it forever. That kiss, which said everything about all the criticism which had been targeted at Sara Carbonero, girlfriend of Iker Casillas, that her presence had distracted Casillas and caused him to let in the fatal goal in their first match against Switzerland - as the Spanish media put it "even newspapers as prestigious as The Times repeated this theory". All that is forgotten now, and they are the golden couple. Carbonero was left lost for words, as you would be if your boyfriend gave you a smacker in front of the entire Spanish population, and 760 million-odd other people around the world, and uttered a simple, shocked "Madre mia!" before handing back to the main presenter. It appealed to the romantic in all of us, that spontaneous, loving gesture, and was a perfect end to a rather prolonged night. Some interesting facts: no one team has ever lost their first match and then gone on to win the Championship; the (English) referee handed out more cards than ever before (13, 12 yellow and one red) in a World Cup final; Spain is only the eighth country ever to hold up the trophy. It joins a select group which includes Brazil, Italy, Germany, Uruguay, Argentina, England and France, sights are now set on hosting the 2018 competition jointly with Portugal. As some papers put it this morning, last night we won not one World Cup, but two. The other hopefuls are Quatar, South Korea, Australia, Russia, Belgium and Holland, Mexico, the US and England. But let's get back to last night. I can't tell you much about the match itself, as I was watching it on a huge screen with 6,000 other people in Camas, home town of Sergio Ramas and my husband (whose cousin knows the Real Madrid player). The scene at the plaza was filmed by two Spanish national TV channels, who had reporters there before, during and after the match, as well as again this morning. There were also photos of football fans watching the match in Camas, which is just outside Seville, in many newspapers today. Anyway, it was more family occasion than serious follow-the-ball match for me, having to keep an eye on my son, who was playing happily with his cousin, both of them blasting away on their vuvuzelas and waving their stripey light sticks. And the sun was shining directly on the screen for the first part (can't really say half, as it wasn't a game of two halves) of the match, making it difficult to see what was happening. At the risk of stating the obvious, it was an amazing sight, that sea of red and yellow (my son had to make do with a red Thomas the Tank Engine T shirt). My niece waved a huge flag and even my husband, who hates football with as much passion as most people love it, got right into the spirit of the occasion. We saw a Pulpo Paul on TV (which was a friend's, as it turned out), and a bizarre doll dressed up in an Asturian cloak. Plenty of crazy hats, flags, scarves, yellow and red vuvuzelas, faces painted with the Spanish flag. Young and old, all throughly enjoying themselves on a hot summer evening. But was a long, long match, and there was a noticeable pall in the atmosphere at the start of extra time. Everyone can stand and jump and wave their flags and be excited for a couple of hours, but after that energy levels start to dip. It wasn't until the point where Heitinga was sent off, so near the end of extra time, that the atmosphere went electric, the seleccion española seemed to find their second wind too, and then boomba! Iniesta pops it in and the place goes mad. Fireworks went off when the goal was scored, but the game hadn't finished so I got quite confused. Then, it was all over. Spain had beaten Netherlands 1-0, and thereby won the World Cup. And the car horns started beeping all over Camas, Seville, Andalucia and Spain. Listening to comments on the radio this morning, what stood out was the amount of people who said that this victory had united Spain, north, south, east and west, and that we're all champions. One of the most popular chants last night was "Yo soy español, español, español..." Well I'm not, but I'm as delighted as any Spanish person could be. ¡Viva España!
Blog published on 12 July 2010