With a goal by Andres Iniesta 26 minutes into overtime, Spain won its first World Cup on Sunday, beating Holland 1-0 in Johannesburg. "With just four minutes of extra-time remaining, substitute Fernando Torres slid over a cross from the left which was partially cleared as far as Cesc Fabregas and his pass found Iniesta lurking in the area," AFP
reported. (The most exciting moment of the day, though, may have been when a fan was tackled
and carried out by seven security guards after attempting to touch the World Cup trophy.) Spain, having never won before, became the eighth country to join the exclusive club of World Cup winners on Sunday.
It seemed a fitting finish for the first World Cup held in Africa. In the run-up to the tournament, everyone seemed to be a skeptic, and there were endless questions of whether FIFA would end up regretting its decision to hand South Africa the responsibility of hosting such a huge event. And while it would be naive to say the World Cup was free of problems, it did manage to bury "the stereotype of South Africa as a violent place where nothing really works, incapable of staging a global showcase," noted the Los Angeles Times' Robyn Dixon
. Although there are still questions about the total cost of the tournament, for at least a month, the world's attention turned to South Africa and its people united in celebration. For a country that has long lived in the shadow of apartheid, that's hardly a small feat. "We won most of all because we could finally say 'we.' Something shifted during the World Cup,"
wrote one analyst. "With a team to support and half a million guests to take care of, we found ourselves all on the same side." It was anticipated that the match would be the most-watched event in television history after early research from FIFA, soccer's governing body, found that the 2010 World Cup in South Africa over the past month has been the most-watched yet. The goal is to beat the 1 billion viewers who tuned in for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. "We don't want to speculate in numbers but we're hoping this will be the biggest [event] ever," said Niclas Ericson, FIFA's director of television, according to CNN
. Probably helping to boost that audience was the attendance of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. Mandela, 92, canceled plans to attend the tournament's opening ceremonies after his great-granddaughter died in car crash but, after extreme pressure from FIFA, decided to join his country for the final match. When Mandela waved to the crowd before the game on Sunday, 100,000 spectators "rose to their feet to give him a thunderous welcome with roars, applause and vuvuzela blasts,"
reported. "It was the dream finale for the biggest sporting event Africa has ever seen, a momentous chapter in the history of country and continent."