The 2010 FIFA World Cup Final (also known as the Battle of Johannesburg) was a football match that took place on 11 July 2010 at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa, to determine the winner of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Spain defeated the Netherlands 1–0 with a goal from Andrés Iniesta four minutes from the end of extra time. English referee Howard Webb was selected to officiate the match, which was marked by an unusually high number of yellow cards.
With both the Netherlands and Spain attempting to win their first FIFA World Cup, the 2010 final became the sixth final to be contested between non-former champions after 1930, 1934, 1954, 1958, and 1978. The Netherlands had been beaten in the final in 1974 and 1978, while Spain's best performance had been fourth place in 1950. It was the second consecutive all-European final, and marked the first time a European team has won the trophy outside Europe.
Prior to this game, the Netherlands and Spain had never met each other in the main tournament stages of either a World Cup or a European Championship, the two major tournaments for European international teams. In all-time head-to-head results, the teams had met nine times previously since 1920, winning four games each and drawing once, in either friendlies, European Championship qualifying games, and once in the 1920 Summer Olympics.
It was the first time since the 1978 final that neither of the finalists had previously won the World Cup. The Netherlands were runners-up twice before, losing 2–1 to West Germany in 1974, and 3–1 (after extra time) to Argentina in 1978. Reaching the 2010 final was Spain's best performance in the World Cup, having previously finished fourth in 1950 when the tournament had a round-robin final stage, and the quarter-finals stage in 1934, 1986, 1994 and 2002, when single elimination knock-out stages featured. Spain became the 12th different country to play in a World Cup Final, and first new team since France in 1998. The Netherlands played in its third final without a win, surpassing the record it had shared with Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Overall, Germany leads with four final losses. It was the first World Cup final not to feature at least one of Brazil, Italy, Germany or Argentina. Spain became just the eighth country to win the World Cup, joining England and France as nations who have won it just once.
Before the match Spain had an Elo rating of 2111 points and the Netherlands a rating of 2100 points. Thus, the finalists combined for 4211 points, the highest for any international football match ever played, beating the previous record of 4161 combined points for the 1954 FIFA World Cup Final between Hungary and West Germany.
Spain entered the 2010 World Cup as the reigning UEFA European Football Champions, having won UEFA Euro 2008, and as the shared holders of the international football record of consecutive unbeaten games for a national team, spanning 35 matches from 2007 to 2009; they also won all 10 matches of their qualifying campaign. The Netherlands entered the World Cup having won all eight matches in their UEFA Group 9 qualifying campaign.
Once at the finals in South Africa, the Netherlands reached the knockout stage as winners of Group E, with three wins out of three against Denmark, Japan and Cameroon, conceding only one goal. In the knockout stage, they beat World Cup debutants Slovakia, five-time champions Brazil and two-time champions Uruguay. The Netherlands reached the Final in a 25-match unbeaten streak since September 2008.
In Group H, Spain recovered from a loss to Switzerland in their opening game to beat Honduras and then Chile, finishing top of the group ahead of Chile on goal difference. In the knockout stage, they then beat their Iberian neighbours Portugal, quarter-final debutants Paraguay and three-time World Cup winners Germany. The semi-final was a repeat of the match up for the UEFA Euro 2008 Final, and again saw Spain beat Germany, who were the top scorers of the 2010 tournament up to that point.
In the six games both teams played in South Africa to reach the final, the Netherlands scored a total of twelve goals and conceded five, while Spain scored seven and conceded two. Going into the final, Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands and David Villa of Spain were tied as the top scorers with five goals each; Arjen Robben of the Netherlands with two was the only other player in the finalists' squads with more than one goal in the tournament.
|Slovakia||2–1||Round of 16||Portugal||1–0|
The match ball for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final, revealed on 20 April 2010, was the Jo'bulani, a gold version of the Adidas Jabulani ball used for every other match in the tournament. The name of the ball is a reference to "Jo'burg", a common nickname for Johannesburg, the match venue. The gold colouring of the ball mirrors the colour of the FIFA World Cup Trophy and also echoes another of Johannesburg's nicknames: "the City of Gold". The Jo'bulani is the second ball to be specifically produced for the FIFA World Cup Final, after the Teamgeist Berlin was used for the 2006 final.
At the time of the final, all but three members of the Spanish squad played for clubs in Spain; the other three were based in England. The Netherlands squad drew its players from clubs in five European countries, with just nine based in the Netherlands; six played in Germany, five in England, two in Italy and one in Spain.
The referee for the final was Howard Webb, representing The Football Association of England. He was assisted by fellow Englishmen Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey. Webb was the first Englishman to referee a World Cup final since Jack Taylor officiated the 1974 final between the Netherlands and West Germany.
A police officer from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, 38-year-old Webb is one of the English Select Group Referees, and has officiated Premier League matches since 2003. He was appointed to the FIFA list of international match referees in 2005, and before the World Cup, he had taken charge of the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final and the 2009 FA Cup Final.
At the 2010 World Cup, Webb refereed three games, all with Cann and Mullarkey as his assistants. In the group stage, he refereed the Spain–Switzerland and Slovakia–Italy games, and then took charge of the Brazil–Chile match in the Round of 16. In those three games, he never showed a red card or awarded a penalty, but he did issue the second highest number of yellow cards in the tournament, an average of 5.67 bookings per game. With fourteen yellow cards in the final (one red card to John Heitinga – twice yellow), he easily broke the previous record of six for most cards in a World Cup final, set in 1986. Nine of these Final yellow cards came in the first 90 minutes. Webb's total of 31 yellow cards throughout the tournament came to an average of 7.75 per game.
The final was played on 11 July 2010 at Soccer City, Johannesburg. Spain defeated the Netherlands 1–0, after an extra time goal by Andrés Iniesta. The win gave Spain its first World Cup title. It was the first time since England in 1966 that the winners of the final wore their second-choice strip.
The match had the most yellow cards awarded in a World Cup final, more than doubling the previous record for a final, set when Argentina and West Germany shared six cards in 1986. Fourteen yellow cards were awarded (nine for the Netherlands and five for Spain), and John Heitinga of the Netherlands was sent off for receiving a second yellow card. One yellow card was for Nigel de Jong's studs-up kick to the chest of Xabi Alonso during the first half, for which Rob Hughes of The New York Times, among others, believed the referee should have given a red card. The referee, Howard Webb, later said after reviewing the foul that it should have been a red card, but that his view during play was partially obstructed.
The Netherlands had several chances to score, most notably in the 62nd minute when Arjen Robben was released by Wesley Sneijder putting him one-on-one with Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas, but Casillas pushed the shot wide with an outstretched leg. Meanwhile, for Spain, Sergio Ramos missed a free header from a corner kick when he was unmarked. Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst was substituted in the 105th minute by Edson Braafheid; Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, who had come on as a substitute in the 99th minute for Nigel de Jong, took over as captain for the last 15 minutes. From the 109th minute, the Dutch played with 10 men due to Heitinga's second yellow card. With a penalty shootout seeming inevitable, Jesús Navas sprinted into opposing territory and began a series of passes that led to Iniesta finally breaking the deadlock four minutes before the end of extra time, scoring with a right footed half-volleyed shot low to the goalkeeper's right after receiving a pass from Cesc Fàbregas on the right of the penalty area.
Just before the goal was scored, the Dutch team had a free kick that hit the wall (apparently taking a deflection off Fàbregas) before going out. Despite the deflection, which should have given possession and a corner kick to the Dutch, a goal kick was given to Spain, starting the play that led to the goal. The Dutch, however, momentarily had possession of the ball near the Spanish penalty area in between the goal kick and Iniesta's goal. Joris Mathijsen was yellow-carded for his strong protests to the referee after the goal, and other Dutch players criticised Webb for this decision after the match. Iniesta was yellow-carded for the removal of his team shirt when celebrating his goal. Underneath he had a white vest with the handwritten message: "Dani Jarque siempre con nosotros" ("Dani Jarque, always with us").
Man of the Match:
|Shots on target||5||8|
At the conclusion of the match, the Spanish team changed into their red shirted home kit for the presentation. These shirts already had a star over the emblem, signifying Spain's World Cup victory. Spain had become the third side to win a World Cup final while playing in their away kit, which was black. (Brazil in 1958 and England in 1966 were earlier winners who played in their away kit.) The Spanish formed a guard of honor for the defeated Dutch as they went up to receive their runner-up medals. Afterwards, the now red-shirted Spaniards went up to receive their medals, led by Xavi. Spain captain Iker Casillas (who per tradition went last) was presented with the trophy by South African President Jacob Zuma and FIFA boss Sepp Blatter; Spain were the latest new World Champions since France's win in 1998, and La Roja also became the first new winners since Brazil in 1958 to win outside their home country and also the first European team to win outside their own continent.
The day after the final, Johan Cruyff publicly criticised the Dutch team in El Periódico de Catalunya for having played "in a very dirty fashion", describing their contribution to the final as "ugly", "vulgar" and "anti-football". He added that the Dutch should have had two players sent off early in the match, and criticised referee Howard Webb for failing to dismiss them. The Associated Press was of the opinion that the Dutch had "turned far too often to dirty tactics".
The Dutch received nine yellow cards, compared with five yellow cards issued to Spain. Before the final, Webb was tied with Yuichi Nishimura of Japan for issuing the highest number of yellow cards (17). After the match some Dutch players, such as Robben, Stekelenburg, Robin van Persie, Dirk Kuyt and Wesley Sneijder, accused Webb of favouring the Spaniards, while in Switzerland's earlier defeat of Spain, Spain supporters accused Webb of favouring Switzerland. Other critics noted poor and missed calls on both teams. By the end of the tournament, the Dutch team had earned 22 yellow cards in its seven games, while Spain had earned only eight (the lowest of the four semi-finalists, with Germany and Uruguay having earned 13 each). Spain was awarded FIFA's Fair Play award after the final.
Some English commentators, such as Sam Wallace, Graham Poll and Dermot Gallagher, have defended Webb. FIFA President Sepp Blatter admitted Webb had a "very hard task" in the match. Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong stated that Webb, whom he knows from the Premier League, is not a bad referee, and admitted he was lucky not to have received a red card for his high challenge. Webb himself said, in a subsequent interview:
|“||Having seen [the De Jong challenge] again from my armchair, I would red-card him. The trouble in the actual game was that I had a poor view of that particular incident.||”|
The Dutch team was welcomed back to Amsterdam by an estimated 200,000 supporters lining the banks of the canals, and team captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst and coach Bert van Marwijk were named Knights in the Order of Oranje-Nassau by Dutch Queen Beatrix. Further, there were also reports that noted the play-acting and fouls by some of the Spanish players. Renowned German footballer Franz Beckenbauer criticised both teams and Webb saying that the match was "lacking flow, [with] constant protests from the players and a referee who didn't have too much of an overview". There was negative and positive criticism following Spain's ball possession strategy in the World Cup final. While some maintained that it was effective, but "boring", others claimed it was "beautiful".
In Spain, the final attracted 15.6 million total Spanish viewers across three networks, which represents 86% share of the audience, becoming the highest rated TV broadcast in Spanish history. Spain’s previous record was set by the Euro 2008 quarter-final penalty shootout between Spain and Italy, which drew 14.1 million viewers.
In the Netherlands, 12.2 million people watched the final on television, which is 74% of the total population of the country.
In United States, World Cup television viewership rose 41 percent over 2006 final for English-language telecasts, with the final setting a record for a men's football game. The final in Johannesburg, which gave the Spanish their first World Cup title, was seen by 15,545,000 viewers on ABC, according to fast national ratings. The previous high was 14,863,000 viewers for the United States' 2–1 extra time loss to Ghana in the second round on 26 June. An additional 8.821 million viewers watched Spanish-language coverage on Univision, according to Nielsen Media Research, bringing the total to nearly 24.4 million.
The final received an 8.1 rating on ABC, up 6 percent from the 7.7 for Italy's penalty-kicks win over France in the 2006 final. This was the fourth-highest rating for a men's World Cup game behind Brazil's penalty-kicks victory over Italy in the 1994 final at the Rose Bowl (9.5), Brazil's second-round victory over the U.S. in 1994 (9.3) and Ghana-U.S. match in 2010 (8.5).
Viewership for the final on Univision was up 49 percent from 5,903,000 for 2006. It was the third most-watched program on U.S. Spanish-language TV, trailing Argentina's win over Mexico on 27 June (9,405,000) and the finale of the telenovela "Destilando Amor (Essence of Love)" on 3 December 2007 (9,018,000).
In Canada, coverage of the final brought in unprecedented numbers of viewers. It attracted an average audience of 5.131 million to the CBC, with a peak of 7.664 million, according to BBM overnight measurements. Radio-Canada television drew 685,000 in French for a combined 5.816 million watchers, a number 105 per cent higher than the English and French broadcasts of the 2006 final brought in.
The match was attended by members of both the Dutch and Spanish Royal Families. South African dignitaries and celebrities attending included Charlize Theron (actress), and Jacob Zuma (President of South Africa), while Nelson Mandela (former President of South Africa) made a brief appearance before the match wheeled in by motorcart. Spaniards Plácido Domingo, Rafael Nadal (tennis player) and Pau Gasol (basketball player) were in attendance to cheer on their team. Other international celebrities to attend the match included Jay-Jay Okocha and American actor Morgan Freeman (who played Mandela in the 2009 film Invictus).
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