Spain’s World Cup-winning football squad won the prestigious Prince of Asturias prize for sport Tuesday for a victory that “made history”, the jury announced.
The team delivered Spain’s first ever World Cup win, overcoming the Netherlands 1-0 in the July 11 final with a goal just four minutes before the end of extra time by Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta.
Coming on the heels of their Euro 2008 victory, it “has become one of the milestones of Spanish sport internationally,” the Prince of Asturias jury said in a statement.
“Their exemplary way of understanding football, based on sportsmanship, fair play and fellowship has brought together millions of people around a team that has made history,” it said.
The 23-man squad, including Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas and Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, beat 17 other candidates. The award includes a stipend of 50,000 euros (64,000 dollars) and a sculpture by Joan Miro.
Eight Prince of Asturias awards are granted each year in categories including arts, literature, communications, sports and scientific research.
Named after Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe, they are presented each October in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo in a ceremony broadcast live in Spanish television.
The Prince of Asturias prize for sport was awarded last year to Russian pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva.
Past winners have also included Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal, Germany’s seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher, retired US athletics legend Carl Lewis and US naturalised Czech-born tennis ace Martina Navratilova.
Nearly 14 million people — out of Spain’s population of about some 47 million — watched the match on television, according to ratings firm Barlovento Comunicacion.
Spain face Argentina later on Tuesday in a friendly in Buenos Aires.
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