In Mexico, celebrations of Spain's World Cup win

Published Jul. 12, 2010 12:23 a.m. ET

Thousands of jubilant, flag-waving fans in Mexico celebrated Spain's World Cup triumph on Sunday, a joyful reminder of the historical ties to Iberia through language, culture and the legacy of conquest.

After the final whistle blew in Spain's 1-0 victory over the Netherlands, about 2,500 revelers converged at the Plaza de Cibeles in Mexico City's trendy Roma Norte district. They banged drums, blew vuvuzelas and marched around a fountain chanting and singing.

Police officials said the crowd might rise to 4,000, and set up barricades to keep fans from jumping into the fountain.

The Cibeles monument is an exact copy of the fountain of the same name in the Spanish capital where Madrid fans traditionally celebrate important football victories. It was dedicated in 1980 and donated by the local Spanish community.

''Spain deserved it,'' said Manolo Ruiz, a Spaniard. ''They were due to win it.''

Ruiz then pulled out a wine skin, held it at arms length, and poured toward his mouth, with much of the red wine splashing on his face and red and yellow Spanish jersey.

''Today, anything goes,'' he said.


Tens of thousands of Spaniards reside in Mexico, according to Spanish government voter rolls. And many Mexicans also feel a close personal tie to the country of Cervantes, though others reject the former colonial master and refer to Spaniards derogatorily as ''gachupines.''

''When it comes to football, we are more Spanish,'' said Fernando Llorente, who was born in Mexico but has Spanish roots. He said other Mexicans with parents from Spain feel the same loyalty to Spain's national team.

Llorente was wearing a red and yellow fury wig, and he was ready to party.

''Tonight it is time to celebrate and enjoy the triumph - until the body gives out,'' he said.

Similar celebrations broke out at Mexico City's Cibeles in 2008 after Spain won the European championship.

On Sunday, a few blocks away from the fountain, fans packed the cavernous, Spain-themed Covadonga cantina during the match. The popular watering hole is named after an eighth-century battle in Asturias in northern Spain, which is considered the beginning of the Christian reconquest.

''This is the biggest thing that could happen,'' said Spaniard Antonio Cabrera, from the southern city of Jaen, the heart of Spain's olive-growing industry. ''It is going to be the biggest party that has ever been celebrated over there.''

Then he added with lament: ''It is too bad I am here.''