Spain‘s economy will get a boost from its July 11 victory in the World Cup soccer tournament, the country’s honorary consul in Atlanta predicts.
“The World Cup has a huge exposure,” Ignacio Taboada, who watched the final World Cup match in Madrid while on vacation, told GlobalAtlanta. “It’s free advertising, free promotion for the country.”
Spain needed some good news, said Mr. Taboada. Its economy has been hard-hit by the economic downturn, with its unemployment rate approaching 20 percent.
“We have gone from one of the fastest growing countries in Europe to one of the slowest growing countries with the highest unemployment,” the consul said.
In addition to reductions in government spending, the country needs to diversify its economy, he added.
“You can’t depend only on tourists and real estate and construction,” he said.
Spain also needs more flexible business regulations and labor laws, with many of the current restrictive practices still lingering from the days of dictator Francisco Franco, said the consul.
He believes it is unlikely Spain will default on its government debt, despite market fears that it will do so. Spain, with a population of 50 million, has a much larger economy than Greece, another European country with a particularly troubled economy. According to the CIA World Fact Book, Spain’s debt as a percentage of gross domestic product is 53.2 percent, compared to 113 percent for Greece.
But for a few days, those weighty economic issues seemed to vanish in Spain as the country relished its first World Cup victory.
“The World Cup has always been a thorn for Spain,” said the consul. “We play a type of style that never seems to be successful. Now they’ve won the Euro Cup and they have put us in the elite winners of the World Cup.”
Mr. Taboada, a native of Spain who came to Atlanta to help launch a Spanish company that raises quail in Greensboro, Georgia, watched the July 11 World Cup final with his family while on vacation in Madrid.
The crowds celebrating the victory were huge and fans were enthusiastic but well behaved, he said.
“I haven’t seen anything like that in my life,” he said. “We have drawn crowds for unfortunate incidents, terrorist attacks, violence. This is the really the first event where I have seen everybody coming together, having a good time and yes, pushing for the country.”