Football Dream Distracts from the Crisis
By Anne Seith in Madrid
Spain is in the grips of football fever -- a welcome distraction from the dire economic reality facing the country. The euphoria can do little to mitigate the appalling consequences of a real estate collapse that has many families facing financial ruin.
The celebrations continued well into night on Wednesday, with fireworks, flags, and a lot of beer, noise and excitement. The chorus of horns on the streets went on for hours. And the next day the newspapers only had room for one story on the front pages: the brilliant victory of the Spanish national team over the Germans. "The best in the world," was one headline above a photograph of the Spanish footballers leaping into each others arms with joy.
Fernando Herrero has had little time to celebrate the semifinal victory. The lean 35-year-old with the dark blond hair and hunched shoulders is too busy dealing with billions of euros of debt.
Herrero is the general secretary of the Banks and Insurance Consumers' Association of Spain (ADICAE). The consumer protection group has had to step in to help heavily indebted homeowners ever since the real estate sector collapsed. And that means an incredible amount of work. Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards can no longer afford to pay their mortgages, Herrero says. The association fears that this year could see more than 200,000 evictions. In 2008 there were 50,000. more