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Spain celebrates World Cup win; Dutch blame Paul the Octopus

As fans of Spain luxuriate in the glow of the country's first World Cup championship, fans of the Netherlands search for an explanation of what went wrong. Some blame the referee, others point to Paul the Octopus.

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"I support Spain because I love the La Liga, (the Spanish professional league),” says Mr. Sikhosana. "I'm a big fan of Barcelona and the fact that Iniesta [a Barcelona midfielder] scored the winning goal makes it special. I have already asked to be excused at work because we are going to party until tomorrow.”

"I'm really happy that Africa has managed to host this World Cup,” he adds. “It is amazing and I'm proud."

For Dutch fans, however, the loss to Spain was a more somber affair. One-hundred-and-twenty minutes of hard football and near misses between some of the best football players in the world has a way of sucking the wind out of you, especially when the result goes against you.

Or blame Paul the Octopus?

One Dutch fan, completely without irony, blamed the psychic predictions of a certain German octopus named Paul, who correctly predicted Netherlands would lose.

"Had it not been for this creature called Octopus Paul, which weakened our team by its predictions, Holland could have destroyed Spain,” says Walt van Vonk, emerging from Soccer City stadium after the game. "I am not taking anything away from Spain, but this creature's match outcome prediction was bad news."

Even Andrés Iniesta himself gave a post-game salute to Paul. "As for the octopus, what can I say?" he told reporters. "We won and I'm sure the octopus will be more popular in Spain."

Other Dutch fans blame the red card on Dutch defender Heitinga for the ultimate collapse of the Dutch team.

"The expulsion of Johnny Heitinga severely affected our players’ moral. The dismissal gave the Spaniards the numerical advantage over Holland, hence the defeat, otherwise our boys played very well," said Daniel du Toit, another Dutch fan. If the match had remained scoreless, he adds, the Dutch would have won in a penalty shootout.

But tempting as it is to blame the ref, Netherlands supporter Finnie Goddard, who lives in the Johannesburg suburb of Melville, says Paul the Psychic Octopus was the main culprit.

"This creature made 100 percent predictions, and when Paul (the Octopus) predicted that Spain would win the World Cup final, I strongly believe this had some negative impact to Netherlands' players,” says Mr. Goddard, coming out of the stadium. “This affected them psychologically and spiritually."

IN PICTURES: Paul the octopus predicts World Cup outcomes

STORY: Octopus Paul retires, international dispute over ownership begins



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