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Professionalism rules as Spain breaks FIFA record in 10-0 win over Tahiti

Jun 20, 2013, 5:24 PM EDT

FBL-WC2014-CONFED-ESP-TAH Getty Images

Everyone was put in a tough position prior to this match.

With tiny Tahiti’s qualification for the Confederations Cup and drawn in the same group as the #1-ranked team in the world, it was an awkward situation for everyone involved.

The Tahitians went in knowing they’d be sent to the slaughter.

The Spaniards had to walk the line of professionalism and sportsmanship.

The fans were left unsure of whether to hope for excitement, an upset, goals, or a blowout.

In the end, Spain set the FIFA record for margin of victory and tied the record for goals in a match, and everyone got through the ordeal with their professional reputations intact, if not their egos.

It was a thrashing of epic proportions, but that doesn’t mean it was unsportsmanlike.

Spain should be praised for winning in an unparalleled fashion, but at the same time remaining entirely respectful and classy.

There were no individual displays of skill meant to show off and embarrass their lowly opponents.  There was no showboating.  The Spaniards congratulated their opponents at the end of the match and switched jerseys with the Tahitian players.

Most importantly, the Spain team showed the Tahiti squad as much respect as possible by not shutting the power down entirely.  It was obvious Spain wasn’t trying their hardest – after Torres embarrassed himself with his missed penalty, the striker actually turned on the gas for once and the result was a goal within 30 seconds.  However, the ultimate insult in a professional match would have been to stop trying altogether.

Tahiti must also be praised.  They didn’t give up, and their manager Eddy Etaeta didn’t park the bus, instead choosing to press everyone forward.  It backfired, but it represented an appreciation for the match, for the game, and for the opportunity presented to them.  The squad should be lauded for taking this opportunity with open arms.  They earned it (by FIFA’s standards, which one could argue should be reconsidered) and gave it their all. Spain recognized this.

Neither side played up fouls, nobody dove, no one got nasty, and everyone played with a respect for the situation.

The fans also should be commended.  Each touch in the first half by Tahiti was cheered.  Fans who begun rooting for goals ended up not only feeling bad about what they had been cheering for but also enjoyed the effort by the underdogs.

Even the referee should be lauded.  He didn’t give the far better team calls for being better, and he didn’t give the poor underdogs any pity calls.  It was a fairly called match, and the referee respected the game by doing so.

In a match which resulted in utter demolition on the scoreboard, it was the wonderful displays of respect, class, and professionalism that are the real story.  The game is played by people, not numbers, and those people did us proud.

  1. judgereed - Jun 21, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    If you do this in any other sport its pure classlessness.. How is it ok in soccer? They embarrassed them and showed no mercy. I just got into soccer at the last world cup and I have fell in love with the game( I watch soccer more than anything now and own season tickets to the Union). I have been a die hard sports fan my entire life, I don’t see how this and class can be used in the same sentence.

    • danielofthedale - Jun 21, 2013 at 12:41 AM

      I could not disagree with you more on this. What would have been classless is if Spain after scoring in the 5th minute just passed the ball around the park for the next 85 minutes and never trying to score. It would be the ultimate acting of belittling an opponent and showing them up. Spain played all out for 90 minutes, that’s all you can ask of them. On top of that,that is what I am guessing the Tahiti players wanted, to be treated as equals and not taken pity on.

      And I have some experience in this area as well since I played on a few sports teams growing up that were just plain bad. I always felt way worse after a game if the other team just quite trying and simply did what they could to end the game then when they keep competing and most of my teammates felt the same way.

      On top of that Spain never once acted like they won the world cup after scoring a goal. The scored and simply got back in the action.

    • randomhookup - Jun 21, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      There are plenty of blowouts in other sports and the use of goal differential in this tourney means that it has to be done at some level. Spain was using their 2nd string and sounds like they didn’t have much choice in hanging a big number on them.

      Still not as bad as Jordan women 21-0 Kuwait last week (which actually needed a +18 GD to make sure they moved forward) or Australia 31-0 American Samoa of years ago.

  2. footballer4ever - Jun 21, 2013 at 12:40 AM


    In my humble opinion, it’s not that it is okay, but a football club or national team wants to face the best competition regardless of the consequences. It’s the nature of the beast and footballers are aware of such thing. I am sure Tahiti would feel more disrespected if Spain would have played them with pity than the opposite. As far as the tournament, tv viewers, everyone will try to score many goals on each other if they could it does not matter if it’s a big team or not.

  3. brooxlyn - Jun 21, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    It is okay to lose. Both teams gave it their best. If you feel a need to place blame for this outcome, place it on FIFA for allowing Tahiti qualify.

  4. lyleoross - Jun 21, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Let’s remember that the Tahitians are adults. They know exactly where they stand, and what Spain is. If your local basketball team, that you play on, of die hard amateurs got to play Miami in a stand up game, would you? You bet. And would you want Miami to go easy, to fool around, or to play hard and fair? Would you not be excited to match against them, shake their hands, be cheered on by fans of the sport who rooted equally hard for both teams?

    This game showed what soccer can be. I extend my thanks to both squads and all involved, and remind you, this would have never happened in basketball, or American style football. It actually does happen in baseball. This is what is great about sport, and what we’ve forgotten really matters.

  5. JDRDone - Jun 21, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Watched much of the match, and I came away impressed with how everyone handled it. Tahiti only has one professional player, while Spain’s seconds are the second-best team in the world to it’s firsts (hyperbole for the sake of argument here…) If one thing rubbed me the wrong way, it was the contnued use of the commentator’s overblown “GOOOOOOAL!” call for subsequent scores.

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