2010 FIFA World Cup Final

2010 FIFA World Cup Final
Watching World Cup final in Johannesburg 2010-07-11 1.jpg
Event 2010 FIFA World Cup
Netherlands Spain
Netherlands Spain
0 1
Date 11 July 2010
Venue Soccer City, Johannesburg
Man of the Match Andrés Iniesta (Spain)
Referee Howard Webb (England)
Attendance 84,490

The 2010 FIFA World Cup Final 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. The match was marked by an unusually high number of yellow cards, mostly issued to the Dutch who were criticised for their rough play.[2][3]

Both the Netherlands and Spain were attempting to win their first FIFA World Cup. 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 have 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.

Neither team had won a World Cup final before. The Netherlands were runners-up twice before, losing 2–1 to West Germany in 1974, and 3–1 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. 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, by far 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.

World Cup firsts

It is the first time since the 1978 final, when Argentina beat the Netherlands, that neither of the finalists has previously won the World Cup. It is the first World Cup final not to feature at least one of Brazil, Italy, Germany or Argentina;[4] these are historically the top four teams in terms of World Cup final appearances.

In another first for the World Cup, neither team that contested the previous final in 2006 reached the knock-out stages of the tournament. Defending champions Italy and runners-up France both finished last in Group F and Group A respectively. It is the second consecutive final which did not feature Germany or Brazil, and the third time overall since 1954, the other being 1978.

With two European finalists, it is the first time a European team has won the World Cup hosted outside of Europe. It sees Europe reaching ten World Cup titles, surpassing South America’s nine titles. It is the second consecutive all-European final since the 2006 final, meaning the trophy has been won by a European team in consecutive World Cups for just the second time, the other time being when Italy won back to back in 1934 and 1938.

The match had the most yellow cards awarded in a World Cup Final (14).[5]

Spain had the fewest goals scored in the World Cup tournament for a champion (8). The previous record was 11 goals by Brazil in 1994, England in 1966 and Italy in 1934. They also had the fewest goals conceded for a champion (2), tied with Italy (2006) and France (1998).

The match was also the sixth to go to an extra time (among the 1934, 1966, 1978, 1994 and 2006 finals), and the fourth that was decided during extra time (along with the 1934, 1966, and 1978 finals), two of which were lost by the Netherlands.

It was the first time since 1974 that the current Champions of Europe also win the World Cup, the last being the German national squad.[6]

Spain’s victory marked the first time that a team that lost their opening World Cup finals game has gone on to win the tournament.

It was also the first time since England in 1966 that the winners of the final wore their second choice strip (uniform).

Route to the final

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. 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.

Netherlands Round Spain
Opponent Result Group stage Opponent Result
Denmark 2–0 Match 1 Switzerland 0–1
Japan 1–0 Match 2 Honduras 2–0
Cameroon 2–1 Match 3 Chile 2–1
Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Netherlands 3 3 0 0 5 1 +4 9
Japan 3 2 0 1 4 2 +2 6
Denmark 3 1 0 2 3 6 −3 3
Cameroon 3 0 0 3 2 5 −3 0
Final standing
Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
Spain 3 2 0 1 4 2 +2 6
Chile 3 2 0 1 3 2 +1 6
Switzerland 3 1 1 1 1 1 0 4
Honduras 3 0 1 2 0 3 −3 1
Opponent Result Knockout stage Opponent Result
Slovakia 2–1 Round of 16 Portugal 1–0
Brazil 2–1 Quarter-finals Paraguay 1–0
Uruguay 3–2 Semifinals Germany 1–0

Notable attendees

The match was attended by members of both the Dutch[7] and Spanish Royal Families. South African dignitaries and celebrities attending included Charlize Theron (actress),[8] 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.[9] Spaniards Rafael Nadal (tennis player) and Pau Gasol (basketball player)[10] were in attendance to cheer on their team. Other international celebrities to attend the match included American actor Morgan Freeman and socialite Paris Hilton.[8]

Match ball

Adidas Jo’bulani

The match ball for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final, revealed on 20 April 2010, was the Jo’bulani, a gold version of the Jabulani ball used for every other match in the tournament.[11] The name of the ball is a reference to “Jo’burg”, a common nickname for Johannesburg, the match venue.[11] 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”.[11] 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.[11]


All but three members of the Spanish squad play for clubs in Spain; the other three are based in England. The Netherlands squad draws its players from clubs in five European countries, with just nine based in the Netherlands; six play in Germany, five in England, two in Italy and one in Spain.

Match officials

The referee for the final was Howard Webb, representing The Football Association of England.[1] 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.[1] 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.[12] Webb’s total of 31 yellow cards throughout the tournament came to an average of 7.75 per game.



Queen Sofía, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia celebrate Spain’s winning goal, while Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima are disconsolate

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.[13] The win gave Spain its first World Cup title.[14]

The match was notable for the large number of yellow cards shown.[14] Fourteen yellow cards were awarded, and John Heitinga of the Netherlands was sent off for a second yellow. Nigel de Jong also delivered a studs-up kick to the chest of Xabi Alonso during the first half, but received only a yellow card. Some were of the opinion that the referee should have punished the Dutch player more severely.

The Netherlands had several chances to score, most notably in the 60th 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.[16] 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 in extra time, scoring a half-volleyed shot after receiving a pass from Cesc Fabregas.[17]

Just before the goal was scored, the Dutch team had a free kick that hit the wall (clearly deflected off Fabregas) before going out.[18][19][20] 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.[18]

As the Spanish team descended the steps onto the pitch after receiving the cup, the Dutch team applauded them from a guard of honour formation.[21]


11 July 2010
Netherlands 0 – 1 (a.e.t.) Spain Soccer City, Johannesburg
Attendance: 84,490
Referee: Howard Webb (England)[1]
Report Iniesta Goal 116′
GK 1 Maarten Stekelenburg
RB 2 Gregory van der Wiel Booked in the 111th minute 111′
CB 3 John Heitinga Yellow cardYellow cardRed card 57′, 109′
CB 4 Joris Mathijsen Booked in the 117th minute 117′
LB 5 Giovanni van Bronckhorst (c) Booked in the 54th minute 54′ Substituted off in the 105th minute 105′
CM 6 Mark van Bommel Booked in the 22nd minute 22′
CM 8 Nigel de Jong Booked in the 28th minute 28′ Substituted off in the 99th minute 99′
RW 11 Arjen Robben Booked in the 84th minute 84′
AM 10 Wesley Sneijder
LW 7 Dirk Kuyt Substituted off in the 71st minute 71′
CF 9 Robin van Persie Booked in the 15th minute 15′
MF 17 Eljero Elia Substituted on in the 71st minute 71′
MF 23 Rafael van der Vaart Substituted on in the 99th minute 99′
DF 15 Edson Braafheid Substituted on in the 105th minute 105′
Bert van Marwijk
NED-ESP 2010-07-11.svg
GK 1 Iker Casillas (c)
RB 15 Sergio Ramos Booked in the 23rd minute 23′
CB 3 Gerard Piqué
CB 5 Carles Puyol Booked in the 16th minute 16′
LB 11 Joan Capdevila Booked in the 67th minute 67′
DM 16 Sergio Busquets
DM 14 Xabi Alonso Substituted off in the 87th minute 87′
CM 8 Xavi Booked in the 120+1th minute 120+1′
RW 6 Andrés Iniesta Booked in the 118th minute 118′
LW 18 Pedro Rodríguez Substituted off in the 60th minute 60′
CF 7 David Villa Substituted off in the 106th minute 106′
MF 22 Jesús Navas Substituted on in the 60th minute 60′
MF 10 Cesc Fàbregas Substituted on in the 87th minute 87′
FW 9 Fernando Torres Substituted on in the 106th minute 106′
Vicente del Bosque
Man of the Match:
Andrés Iniesta (Spain)

Assistant referees:
Darren Cann (England)[1]
Mike Mullarkey (England)[1]
Fourth official:
Yuichi Nishimura (Japan)[1]
Fifth official:
Toru Sagara (Japan)[1]


Netherlands Spain
Goals scored 0 1
Total shots 13 18
Shots on target 5 8
Ball possession 43% 57%
Corner kicks 6 8
Fouls committed 28 18
Offsides 7 6
Yellow cards 8 5
Second yellow card & red card 1 0
Red cards 0 0


The day after the final, Dutch legend Johan Cruyff publicly criticised his countrymen 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, and criticised referee Howard Webb for failing to dismiss them.[23] The Associated Press was of the opinion that the Dutch had “turned far too often to dirty tactics”.[24]

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).[25] After the match some Dutch players, such as Robben, Stekelenburg,[26] Van Persie,[27] Kuyt and Sneijder[28] accused Webb of favouring the Spaniards, while in Switzerland’s earlier defeat of Spain, Spain supporters accused Webb of favouring Switzerland.[29] Other critics noted poor and missed calls on both teams.[30] By the end of the tournament, the Dutch team earned 22 yellow cards in its seven games at the finals tournament, while Spain earned only 8 (the lowest of the four finalists, with Germany and Uruguay having earned 13 each).[31] Spain was awarded FIFA’s fair play award after the final.

Some English commentators, such as Sam Wallace,[32] Graham Poll and Dermot Gallagher,[33] have defended Webb. FIFA President admitted Webb had a “very hard task” in the match.[34] Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong stated that Webb, who 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.[35]

Despite most media coverage indicating criticism of the Dutch, the Dutch team was welcomed back to Amsterdam by an estimated 200,000 supporters lining the banks of the canals,[36] and team captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst and coach Bert van Marwijk were named Knights in the Order of Oranje-Nassau by Dutch Queen Beatrix.[37] Further, some reports noted the play-acting and fouls by some of the Spanish players, which together with the Dutch tactics resulted in one of the least exciting games of the tournament.[38] Renowned German footballer Franz Beckenbauer criticised both teams and Webb when 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.

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