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Overflowing crowds in Buenos Aires forced an end to the World Cup celebration parade: NPR


The Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup title rides on an open-top bus during the homecoming parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Tuesday, December 20, 2022.

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The Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup title rides on an open-top bus during the homecoming parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Tuesday, December 20, 2022.

Rodrigo Abd / AP

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A celebration parade for Argentina’s World Cup champions was abruptly cut short on Tuesday as millions poured onto roads, highways and overpasses in a chaotic bid to catch a glimpse of the national team that won the World Cup. All-time Finals.

So many jubilant, flag-waving fans swept through the capital that players had to ditch the open-air bus taking them to Buenos Aires and board helicopters for a flight over the capital that the government billed as an airshow.

Gabriela Ceruti, a spokeswoman for President Alberto Fernandez, wrote on social media: “The world champions are flying over the entire track in helicopters because it was impossible to continue overland due to the explosion of people’s happiness.”

After flying over key points in Buenos Aires where fans gathered, the two helicopters returned to the Argentine Football Association headquarters outside the capital.

Some fans continued to celebrate in the streets, while others came out of Buenos Aires with long faces, complaining that they could not pay their respects to the team that brought back the country its first World Cup title since 1986.

“We are angry because the government did not organize this properly so that we could all celebrate,” said Diego Benavidez, 25, who had been waiting since early morning to see the team. “They stole the World Cup from us.”

But others have taken it in stride.

“I wasn’t disappointed, we lived the party,” said Nicholas Lopez, 33, who was in downtown Buenos Aires with his 7-year-old daughter.

The show was suspended shortly after two people jumped from a bridge onto an open-top bus carrying the players. One of them got inside the bus, and the other fell on the sidewalk.


Soccer fans welcome the Argentine soccer team home after winning the World Cup in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Tuesday, December 20, 2022.

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Soccer fans welcome the Argentine soccer team home after winning the World Cup in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Tuesday, December 20, 2022.

Victor Kaifano / AP

FIFA president Claudio Tapia blamed law enforcement for the change of plans. “The same security services that accompanied us do not allow us to move forward,” Tapia wrote on social media. “I apologize on behalf of all the hero players.”

As darkness fell, when most of the fans had already poured out of downtown Buenos Aires, there were sporadic clashes between a few stragglers and law enforcement. Local media reports said at least eight people were injured.

The events began when firefighters went to the Obelisk, a famous Buenos Aires landmark that is a traditional site for the festivities, to evacuate a few people who had made their way inside the monument.

The bus moved at a snail’s pace for more than four hours through the crowds of humanity before cutting through the wild show. Team captain Lionel Messi and the rest of the players waved to the massive crowd as they held the World Cup aloft as they captured the country’s third title.

“It’s crazy, it’s indescribable,” said Brian Andressi, 23, as he walked downtown in a team jersey. “There are no words.”

The World Cup and the success of the team led by Messi brought much-needed good news to a country stuck for years in an economic recession and suffering one of the highest rates of inflation in the world, with nearly 4 out of 10 people living in poverty.

Victoria Roldán said, “There is a tremendous union among all Argentines – unity and happiness. It’s as if you can breathe another air, there is another energy in the air.” “My body and my heart are about to explode.”

Holding a replica World Cup trophy, the 32-year-old and her sister Mariana, 36, were eager to see the team and especially its captain Messi.

“We can’t wait to see him,” said Roldan. “Seeing him with that huge smile, with those bright eyes full of hope, it fills our hearts with joy and happiness. … I think Leo deserved it for years, and this was his moment.”

All the players were smiling as they watched the crowd come together to get as close as possible to the bus. An estimated 4 million people took to the streets on Tuesday afternoon, local media reported, citing police sources.

“I celebrate the way people took to the streets to honor our team,” President Alberto Fernandez wrote on social media after the parade ended.


Soccer fans celebrate with the Argentine soccer team after winning the World Cup title, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, December 20, 2022.

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Soccer fans celebrate with the Argentine soccer team after winning the World Cup title, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, December 20, 2022.

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Fans celebrated as the highways, roads and access roads took to the capital as temperatures soared to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

Thousands had set up camp since early Tuesday morning at the Obelisk.

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

Written by a fan and becoming the unofficial popular anthem for the Argentina national team at the World Cup, “Muchachos” filled the streets as fans joined in singing it over and over again.

Some fans also paid tribute to Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona, captain of the 1986 World Cup-winning team who died two years ago, with flags bearing his name and face. Fans chanted, “This is for Diego, who sees it from the sky.”

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

By mid-afternoon, fans began filling the Plaza de Mayo in front of the Government House, amidst rumors that the players might go there to repeat the celebrations for Argentina’s 1986 World Cup victory that were held there. The Fernandez administration offered the lavish mansion, known as the Casa Rosada, or Pink House, according to Security Minister Anibal Fernandez.

The boisterous welcome to the team began before dawn as thousands of fans lined up on their return from Qatar.

The players were elated as they got off their plane in Ezeiza, just outside the Argentine capital, just before 3am on the red carpet. Messi was the first out, holding the World Cup, flanked by coach Lionel Scaloni, who put his arm around the captain as they passed a banner reading, “Thank you champions”.

The rock band La Mosca welcomed the team and sang “Mochachos” and several players, including Messi, were seen singing the lyrics as they boarded the bus that took them to the Argentine Football Association’s headquarters.

The bus took one hour to travel the 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) from the airport to the AFC 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 cuddling the World Cup at his side as he slept.