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José Ramón Pin, Professor, IESE, University of Navarra

La Roja' in America

Thu, 15 Jul 2010 12:05:44 +0000 Published in El

I arrive in Santo Domingo from Ecuador, via Panama, at 12:45 on July 11. The streets are empty and the traffic is fluid, giving me time to leave my suitcase at the hotel and go to a friend's house to watch the final against Holland. The excitement is immense. Iniesta's goal, impressive.

Dominicans start phoning my friends, they have all seen the game. The congratulations are cascading. It is surprising how much importance they give to the victory.

Many were in favor of La Roja. "My grandfather was Galician", "my grandmother was Asturian", "my father was Catalan". The Dominican fans are bigger than those of the Spanish colony; in terms of numbers, they are many more. But even so, the emotion with which they watched the match was surprising.

The book The Human Factor and the movie Invictus tell how Nelson Mandela relies on a sport, rugby, to unite the nation. The South Africa of the 21st century is a new country, and the efforts of its politicians and people are dedicated to building it.

They are beginning to be proud of what they are achieving. Sport has been an instrument for this. The emotional moves hearts more than the rational, and competitive sport awakens feelings.

Spain is a nation of many centuries, victory has brought its people together for a few days. But my experience in Santo Domingo tells me that it has done more. With the other Spanish-speaking teams eliminated (Spanish for them), the winner brought together the feeling of Spanishness. The Empire State Building was dressed in red and purple. Many U.S. Hispanics have felt their victory as their own. America, these days, is more Spanish; you receive congratulations that show a certain pride staff when they are given to you on your language: they feel a country to which history united them.

It is a pity that the village myopia of some politicians does not allow them to see that unity is strength. Yesterday the State of the Nation was debated at congress. Have we learned anything?