Spain's football success helps erase economic woes

Spain's unprecedented success at the World Cup finals is helping people forget the country's economic woes, captain Iker Casillas [  ] said on Friday.

Spain has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe and the Socialist government in Madrid has introduced tough austerity measures, including wage cuts for public-sector workers, in a bid to prevent a Greek-style debt crisis.

A wave of joy swept across the Iberian nation after Wednesday's 1-0 victory over Germany [  ] in the semi-finals and Casillas and his team mates will bid for a first Spanish World Cup triumph against Netherlands in the final on Sunday.

"Many people are having a bad time because of the (financial) crisis and this is a tremendous joy that makes us forget everything around us," goalkeeper Casillas said in an interview with Radio Marca.

"I am a privileged person but I have family and friends and I know what people are going through," he added.

Wednesday's match in Durban was screened on 14 million Spanish television sets and captured over 80 percent of the television audience, a media consultancy said.

Some in Spain have likened the distraction of the World Cup to the "bread and circuses" provided to the population of ancient Rome to prevent unrest.

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