AMSTERDAM - Cities, neighbourhoods and
living rooms across the Netherlands fell silent on Sunday night
after the national team lost to Spain in the World Cup final,
shattering their dream of winning soccer's biggest tournament.
Despite wild cheering ahead of and during the game, the 1-0
loss in extra time sent some 180,000 orange-clad fans trudging
away from Amsterdam's Museum Square, which had swelled into a
mass of people so large that authorities said the city was
literally full to capacity.
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"I feel very disappointed but we didn't deserve to win. It's
a shame," said Chris Schreve, 33, a marketing manager from
Amsterdam who was among the dejected throng milling around the
Leidseplein entertainment district after the match.
Many Dutch immediately hopped on to their bicycles to make
their way home in silence. Police reported no major incidents in
the half hour following the end of the game.
"Tens of thousands of fans are now moving peacefully away
from the Museum Square," a police spokesman said.
Just as there were no revellers jumping with joy into the
city's canals, there will be no victory cruise for the team on
the historic centre's waterways, a traditional parade that many
had been anticipating and planning for.
There will be a
tribute ceremony at Museum Square, however.
This year's strong performance by the Netherlands had
rekindled the nation's hopes of claiming the title in their
third final in the tournament's 80-year history.
Then, as now, the Dutch were widely praised for their
playing style only to end up trophyless, earning them the title
of the "the best team never to have won the World Cup".
Amsterdam, a city of 750,000 inhabitants, had expected up to
1 million people for a victory parade on Tuesday.
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