The World Cup amusement park

Spaniards take to the streets for an impromptu party after winning football's biggest tournament.

    The great thing about Spain winning the football World Cup is that the country has a lot of plazas.

    This means that, for instance, here in Madrid, or equally in Barcelona, Seville or Granada, the city becomes a amusement park of football fans, in which you try one plaza out, see if it entertains you and then go to another.

    Although unlike Disneyland there are no queues, the rides are free and you can scream, shout or even sing whenever you want.
    Obviously tonight the capital has been fully awake all night. Unsurprisingly for a nation that has just won the biggest tournament in football, if not in all of sport, there are tens of thousands of people on the streets.

    People are hanging out of windows of cars often halted by hoards of revellers.

    Men have climbed up lampposts, impromptu drummers are creating circles of entertainment and in an ode to the nation, flags are being used as matadors' capes on people and motorists.

    Yet, despite such predictability, the euphoria shown is incredibly hard to exaggerate. It is also exceedingly rare.

    It is reminiscent through its antithetical nature, to war, whose raw emotion generates empathy far beyond the borders in which it takes place which draws groups of people together for safety and comfort that affects a minority the world's populations during their lifetime.

    Today in Madrid about 250,000 people crammed into a fan zone with four huge screens, along one of the capital's largest avenues.

    As they spilled out of the area to join thousands of other fans throughout the city centre after the game, the celebrations extended further than those bearing the national red and yellow shirt.

    Tourists offered each other drinks, and the immigrants – legal and illegal – who sell Spanish paraphernalia on Madrid's pavements were as involved as if they were goalscorer Andres Iniesta.

    Of course there are also many differences to the individually emotive stories produced by conflict and its long-term consequences.

    And as fireworks continue to crackle here people are also beginning their day’s work, cleaning up the pavements and opening shops. The football World Cup does not change the realities of survival anywhere.

    But on the same streets and plazas that had nicknames such as "Howitzer alley" during the Spanish Civil war about 80 years ago, it is very hard to think of when such widespread amassed joy was last found. This despite Spain's European Championship victory two years ago.

    After 120 minutes of a nerve-racking, bitter game, and a winning goal in extra time, what has been produced is a scene that goes far beyond that of an amusement park.


    The following audio-slideshow was published on July 14, 2010.

    Follow Rhodri Davies on Twitter: @rhodrirdavies


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