San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Dutch denied World Cup title – the view from Costa Rica


When Andres Iniesta received a pass inside the box in the 116th minute and sent it past the Dutch goalkeeper, it became another one of those moments for Dutch Ambassador Mathijs van Bonzel. Like 1974. Like 1978. One of those moments he’ll always remember and wishes he could forget.
“The Americans ask themselves or ask others, ‘where were you when you heard Kennedy was assassinated?” van Bonzel said. “We have something like that. It’s hard to compare but it was a national frustration.”
On Sunday, the Dutch endured that disappointment once more.
Spain defeated Holland 1-0 to win its first-ever World Cup title and denying the Dutch – again – the chance to be called champions. At the Jazz Café Escazú, 600 members of Costa Rica’s Dutch community gathered in their brightest oranges Sunday to watch the final and another for “The Oranje” in a World Cup championship.
Pregame. Kees Vandenberg began a three-week vacation in Costa Rica two days ago. But ecotourism and vibrant green jungles were the last things on his mind when Holland defeated Uruguay last Tuesday to advance to the final for the first time in 32 years.
Vandenberg was told to go to the Dutch co-owned Jazz Café for game time. An ocean of orange overflowed out the front door of the restaurant when his family arrived. At 10:30 a.m., the café had already reached full capacity – two hours before the kickoff. The Vandenbergs walked around to the back of the building to watch the final on big screens with 200 other Dutch fans, also shut out of the café.
“(My wife) didn’t allow me to cancel the holiday because I wanted to stay at home,” Vandenberg said. “But now we’re OK. We’re here with all the people.”
1st minute. Titus Galema finishes off a couple bittenballen as the game kicks off. The traditional Dutch snacks of fried dough stuffed in meat and dipped in peanut sauce and bottles of Heineken welcomed the Holland community to the venue. Galema, who works in Honduras but was born in The Hague, was on a business trip in Costa Rica when he learned where everyone was watching the game.
“It’s incredible,” Galema said. “There’s 500 people inside.”


45th minute + 1. Costa Rican Patrik Madriz nervously squeezes an orange hat – shaped like a wooden shoe – in his hands. Dutch star Arjen Robben has just had a free kick rejected by goalie Iker Casillas. After 45 minutes, the game is scoreless.
Halftime. Edwin Smit rubs the head of his golden retriever, Chico.
“He’s the biggest fan of Holland,” Smit playfully tells his dog. Chico looks like it. The Golden Retriever is now orange thanks to an hour-long dye job at 6:30 a.m.
Smit saved some paint for himself. Red, blue and white lines streak his face. Everything else on him is orange.
62nd minute. That was it. That was there chance. Robben has a breakaway and his shot is chipped away by the foot of Casillas to save the goal.
Wladimir Wanga stomps the ground. He’s one of dozens of fans from the Dutch territories of Curacao and Aruba watching the game in the upper deck of the Jazz Café. His pants and face are painted red, white and blue. “Holandia” is shaved into the back of his head.
“I’ve come to every game here,” Wanga said. “There weren’t many people for the 5:30 a.m. games.”
114th minute. After 50 more minutes of weathering the Spanish attack, the cheers for Holland dissipate. Spain’s Iniesta scores six minutes before the game would’ve gone to penalty kicks.
1-0, Spain.
“We had our chances,” van Bonzel said.
Postgame. A dejected crowd of Dutch fans shuffle home. It’s raining. Of course.
And the drops of water turn the orange T-shirts into angry shades of red.
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