Millions of jubilant Argentines poured onto the streets of Buenos Aires on Tuesday to cheer on the World Cup-winning team led by superstar Lionel Messi, with massive crowds bringing an open-top bus rally to a halt.
The players were unable to reach the Obelisco Central Monument as planned due to security concerns due to the crowd size, estimated by local media at 4 million. They were taken from their show bus to the helicopters.
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“The world champions are flying over the entire track with helicopters because it has become impossible to continue on the ground due to the explosion of popular joy,” said the presidential spokeswoman. Gabriela Cerruti wrote on Twitter.
“Let’s continue to celebrate in peace and show them our love and admiration!”
Television footage showed people across the city, huge crowds waiting around the center of Obelisco, while many took to the highways trying to catch a glimpse of their returning champions in one of the biggest turnouts in history.
“It’s crazy, it’s unbelievable, it’s the best thing that can happen to you in life,” said Matias Gomez, a 25-year-old metalworker. “It is such a joy to see all these happy people, all together, one with the other, holding hands, hugging each other, kissing each other. We are all one today.”
The team had arrived in the early hours of Tuesday morning at Ezeiza airport, where thousands had been waiting, even though it was almost 3am, holding banners, flags and flares, and shouting joyfully 36 years after the country’s last World Cup victory.
Lionel Messi and some of Argentina’s players narrowly avoid disaster as they tumble under the overhead wires of the World Cup motorcade bus.
By midday, millions had already gathered in downtown Buenos Aires, with major thoroughfares closed for the parade. People carried banners of Messi and the late icon Diego Maradona, played instruments, or climbed lampposts or bus stops.
The Argentine capital has been in celebratory mode since its dramatic victory over France in Sunday’s final in Qatar, helping to mask the economic woes of the South American country which is grappling with one of the world’s highest rates of inflation.
The win, on penalties after an entertaining match, made the country world champions for the first time since Diego Maradona lifted the trophy in 1986 and their third in total.
The government made Tuesday a national holiday to allow fans to celebrate the victory.
As the convertible bus snaked through the city, the players danced and cheered with the fans who circled the bus. The police had to hold people back to allow the vehicle to proceed on its slow journey towards the city centre.
But in the end they could go no further.
“They are not letting us pass to greet all the people who were in the Obelisco. The security agents who accompanied us will not let us go forward.” Chiqui Tapia tweetedPresident of the Argentine Football Association (AFA).
No nos dejan llegar a saludar a toda la gente que estaba en el Obelisco, los mismos organismos de Seguridad que nos escoltaban, no nos permen avanzar.
Mil disculpas en nombre de todos los jugadores Campeones.
Una Bina 😠🇦🇷
– tapiachiqui December 20, 2022
“A thousand apologies on behalf of all the heroic players.”
Messi, 35, cemented his reputation as one of the world’s greatest players of all time with the victory as Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties after an impressive 3-3 draw after extra time.
He said it was his last World Cup match, though he plans to play a few more matches for the national team.
Sometimes it felt like the whole country was celebrating all night from Sunday onwards in the Southern Hemisphere summer, the joy of victory hitting everyone with cars honking their horns regularly in celebration.
Elio Mesaris, 25, said as he celebrated in the city where everyone and everything was covered in white and blue. Albiceleste.
“Just look at all this,” he said, “look at all that is painted bright blue and white. Along the roads and highways, all the people are heading towards Argentina.”
“It’s really impressive, it’s unique, what a way to cry. I cried this morning, yesterday, the day before yesterday. I can’t cry anymore, it’s unbelievable!”