The euphoria over Spain's European Championship triumph has briefly lifted the spirits of a nation mired in economic crisis. Team captain and goalie Iker Casillas proudly held the cup as he emerged from the team plane in Madrid on Monday, a day of celebration that would include a meeting with King Juan Carlos and an open bus ride through the city. Spain is the first country to repeat as European champion (2008, 2012) after winning the World Cup (2010).
Set aside were the realities of 25 percent unemployment, a grinding recession, and a bailout from the European Union that could run as high as 100 billion euros ($125 billion). The problems are so severe and pride in the national team so great that a newspaper cartoon suggested coach Vicente del Bosque and his players run the country rather than the politicians in power. Casillas and other stars such as Xaviand Andres Iniesta are dressed up in suits. ''The solution to our problems: the government of prime minister Del Bosque and his ministers,'' read the vignette in El Mundo.
A more realistic perspective of Spain's plight is provided by Maria Jose Herraiz, a 54-year-old homemaker. While hailing the victory she also noted reality would soon return.
''It will be a sort of flower that blooms for just one day, because economic problems do not go away just because Spain wins,'' Herraiz said.