Argentina soccer team leaves parade amid crowds of people

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A parade to celebrate Argentina’s World Cup champions was abruptly canceled Tuesday as millions of people packed the roads, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the team. national team that won one of the best World Cup finals of all time.

So many jubilant, flag-waving fans flooded the capital that the players had to ditch the open-top bus that was taking them to Buenos Aires and board helicopters to fly over the capital that the government billed as an air parade.

“The world champions are flying over the entire route in helicopters because it was impossible to continue on land due to the explosion of joy among the people,” Gabriela Cerruti, spokeswoman for President Alberto Fernández, wrote on social networks.

After flying over key points in Buenos Aires where the fans had gathered, the helicopters returned to the headquarters of the Argentine Football Association on the outskirts of the capital.

Football association president Claudio Tapia blamed law enforcement for the change of plans.

“The same security agencies that escorted us are not allowing us to move forward,” Tapia wrote on social media. “I apologize on behalf of all champion players.”

The bus had been moving at a snail’s pace for more than four hours through the throngs of people before the ground parade was cancelled. Team captain Lionel Messi and the rest of the players waved to the crowd as they held aloft the World Cup trophy after securing the country’s third title, and first since 1986.

“This is crazy, it’s indescribable,” Brian Andreassi, 23, said as he walked downtown wearing the team’s jersey. “There are no words.”

The World Cup and the success of the squad led by Messi have brought much-needed good news for a country that has been economically stagnant for years, suffers from one of the highest inflation rates in the world and where almost 4 out of 10 people live. . in poverty

“There is an immense union among all Argentines, unity, happiness. It is as if you could breathe another air, there is another energy in the air”, said Victoria Roldán. “My body and my heart are about to explode.”

Carrying a replica of the World Cup, the 32-year-old headed downtown with her sister, Mariana, as they tried to find the best spot to catch a glimpse of the team and, in particular, their captain.

“We’re going where they say Leo will be because we’re dying to see him,” Roldán said. “Seeing him with that huge smile, with those bright eyes full of hope, really fills our hearts with joy and happiness. We are very happy that this country enjoys this happiness and I think that Leo has deserved it for years and this was his moment”.

The players were all smiles as they watched the crowds gathered to watch them, many trying to get as close to the bus as possible. An estimated 4 million people were on the streets Tuesday afternoon, according to local media citing police sources.

Celebrating fans took to the highways, avenues and access roads to the capital as temperatures rose to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

Thousands had camped out since early Tuesday morning at the Obelisk, the iconic Buenos Aires monument that is the traditional site of the celebrations.

“We’re a little disoriented because we don’t know the bus route and a little frustrated because we’ve traveled so many kilometers and we may not be able to see them,” said Giselle Pisani, 34, who traveled 350 kilometers (220 miles). with her family from the town of Olavarria.

The Argentine president declared Tuesday a national holiday so the country could celebrate winning the World Cup.

The song “Muchachos”, which was written by a fan and became a popular unofficial anthem for the Argentine team in the World Cup. filled the streets as fans came together to sing it over and over again.

Some fans also paid tribute to Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona, the captain of the squad that won the 1986 World Cup and who died two years ago, with flags bearing his name and face. “This is for Diego, who is watching from heaven,” the fans chanted.

“This is a party. The last time Argentina was champion I was 3 years old, I don’t remember anything,” said Yael Torchinsky, 39. “I want to live this intensely because the Argentine people need this happiness.”

By mid-afternoon, fans began to fill the Plaza de Mayo in front of Government House, amid rumors that players might go there to repeat the festivities for Argentina’s 1986 World Cup victory that they took away. out there. The Fernández administration had offered the palatial mansion, popularly known as the Casa Rosada, according to Security Minister Aníbal Fernández.

The raucous welcome to the team began before dawn as thousands of fans lined up to greet the team upon its return from Qatar.

The players were beaming when they stepped off their plane in Ezeiza, on the outskirts of Argentina’s capital, just before 3 am onto a red carpet. Messi was the first out, carrying the World Cup trophy, flanked by coach Lionel Scaloni, who put his arm around the captain as they walked past a banner that read: “Thank you, champions.”

The team was greeted by the rock band La Mosca singing “Muchachos”, and several players, including Messi, could be seen singing the lyrics as they boarded the bus that would take them to the headquarters of the Argentine Football Association.

It took an hour for the bus to travel the 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) from the airport to the AFA headquarters, where the players were greeted with fireworks and then spent the night. In the morning, Messi posted a photo on social media showing him hugging the World Cup trophy next to him as he slept.

Before the arrival of the team, many had been attentive to the flight that brought the players home. As the plane approached Argentine soil, nearly 200,000 people followed its trajectory online and news channels provided live coverage of the arrival.

Several players posted photos of the plane ride on social media. In one, Nicolás Tagliafico published an image of the World Cup trophy buckled on an airplane seat as if it were another passenger.

Fernández retweeted several congratulatory messages from other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Thank you for this greeting, President Putin,” Fernández wrote on Twitter after a phone call with the Russian leader. “Let the joy that today unites Argentina with so many countries in the world serve as an example: our societies need unity and peace.”

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