Volume 80, Number 7 | July 14 -21, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Villager photo by Joe Quint

Soccer fans celebrating on W. 14th St. after Spain’s World Cup victory.

Red and gold fill 14th St. as Spanish fans go loco

By Joseph Rearick

Who says the U.S. doesn’t love soccer?

Sunday, hundreds of fans dressed in red and gold swarmed the popular Spanish restaurant La Nacional, at 239 W. 14th St. near Eighth Ave., in hopes of seeing the World Cup final amid fellow supporters of Spain. Lines stretched far down the block in both directions, and general revelry was in the air in anticipation of a Spanish victory over the Netherlands. Even vuvuzelas, the noisemaking horns that blew constantly during World Cup games in South Africa, were visible — and certainly audible — in the crowd. A passing fan wearing the orange of the Netherlands jersey was heckled thoroughly.

Aware that La Nacional was deemed a great viewing destination by several sources, including New York magazine, fans gathered outside the place well before the game started at 2:30 p.m to beat the crowds. Some came as early as 11 a.m. and snagged a spot. Others who arrived just an hour early, were not so lucky, despite insistent pleading with the restaurant staff. Dozens of fans were eventually turned away for lack of room and left wondering where they would watch the game.

Those who originally sought La Nacional but arrived too late crammed into other bars nearby. Just down the street, Flannery’s Bar shed its firmly Irish identity for a few hours, as overflow from La Nacional rushed in wearing the bright red flags and jerseys of Spain. They stood for more than two hours in the packed bar, singing traditional chants that lauded Spain and rubbing elbows with fellow supporters. That is until Spain won in overtime and arms went flying up in ecstatic celebration. Strangers hugged and kissed passionately, and beer, tossed up in merriment, stained the ceilings. One of the few fans not joining in the frenetic celebration, oddly enough, was a girl from Spain. Instead, she sat in the corner of the bar, sobbing with joy.

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