Monday, July 12, 2010


So, the World Cup 2010 in South Africa is finally over with Spain deservedly taking the World Cup. I was a Dutch (and Danish, and German) supporter all along yet somehow I don’t feel bummed out about Spain winning. They are a good team with the Euro championship from 2008 under their belt. What startles me is that this is Spain’s first World Cup win; neither Spain nor the Netherlands had won since World Cup’s inception.

To get a kick-start of my Dutch cheering, I ate some hagelslag while listening to both countries’ national anthems. Both sound like funeral themes. The only football teams with vivacious and trumpeting operas as their anthems seem to be Uruguay and Brazil. Happiest anthems ever? Definitely.

Hagelslag, a Dutch treat, is really just chocolate sprinkles on toast

I contemplated what the win would mean for tiny Netherlands, a country of 16 million with a strong taste for orange despite the red, white and blue flag. From 1652 to 1759, the Dutch colonized South Africa through the Dutch East India Company. Insert pages and pages and books and books of history here. The South African language changed and so did the culture; whites prevailed over blacks through decades of ongoing ethnic tension still apparent today. There were slaves, racial battles, and eventually, the Boer War in 1880 – the war of independence for South Africa – where Boers or Dutch farmers rebelled against British colonization. Another Boer war broke out in 1899 where Brits used concentration camps and found that most of their men were physically unable to fight.

I’m not sure if South Africans were generally cheering on the Dutch once their home team was eliminated, but it sure would be ironic if Netherlands took over South Africa...again. And wouldn’t it be an amuse-bouche of politics if the Brits made it to the finals against Netherlands. Europe’s cup in Africa seems like a familiar story.

All that vaguely written history aside, the match was a bit of a disappointment. The vuvuzelas were in full throttle at high speed and volume while the sophisticated navy jerseys triumphed over the silly and flamboyant orange ones. Foul after injury after yellow card after penalty after free kick, at 116 minutes the Spanish finally scored their single goal by AndrĂ©s Iniesta. Dutch player Arjen Robben’s was dangerously fast and sneaky. Even though 85% of the team won yellow cards, I’ll never forget his fancy footwork.

Paul the Octopus was right; his prediction was Spain for this years World Cup.

It turns out that Paul the Octopus in Oberhausen, Germany was right. Paul usually predicts German games during Euro Cup and World Cup, but this time he predicted Spain to win during the match against Holland. He is a coveted psychic. Two flags in containers are dropped into his aquarium, both equipped with mussels. The container that Paul opens with his mighty tentacles is the team he chooses as the winner of each match. So far, he has been correct about every single prediction except Germany vs. Spain at Euro Cup 2008. So, if you’re a disappointed fan who was never cheering for Spain, don’t bother advocating for Paul’s transformation from octopus to sushi since he is now retiring. He’s actually wiser than us all. And really, hearing news about Paul's freakishly accurate predictions was the greatest highlight and most memorable aspect of my World Cup this year.

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