AMSTERDAM - Determined not to let defeat
spoil a good party, some 700,000 fans turned out to welcome the
Dutch football team home from the World Cup in a parade through
Amsterdam's canals on Tuesday.
After coach Bert van Marwijk and captain Giovanni van
Bronckhorst were knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands,
the team were given a heroes' welcome by fans despite their 1-0
defeat to Spain in Sunday's final in South Africa.
"Spain may be world champions but we have the best audience
in the world," winger Arjen Robben told a crowd of nearly
200,000 gathered in Amsterdam's Museum Square.
"We haven't brought the World Cup but you give us the
feeling we are world champions," Van Bronckhorst said.
The city had reversed an earlier decision to cancel the
parade in the event of a loss, and a fleet of boats swarmed into
the narrow canals to follow the parade boat as it passed under
bridges packed with cheering fans, some of whom jumped into the
The warm welcome contrasted with harsh criticism of the
final in newspaper editorials which said the team had deserved
to lose because of their rough play against Spain.
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