The Argentine soccer team puts on a parade amid crowds of people

Buenos Aires, Argentina (AP) — A parade celebrating Argentina’s World Cup champions was abruptly canceled Tuesday as millions of people poured onto roads, highways and overpasses in a chaotic bid to catch a glimpse of the national team that won one of the tournament’s titles. The greatest World Cup finals of all time.

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 tour 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.

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.”

The bus had been moving at a snail’s pace for more than four hours through the crowds of humanity before the overland show was cancelled. Team captain Lionel Messi and the rest of the players waved to the massive crowd as they held the World Cup aloft after they captured the country’s third title, and first since 1986.

“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 that has been in economic stagnation for years, suffers from one of the highest rates of inflation in the world and where nearly 4 out of 10 people live. in poverty.

“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,” said Victoria Roldán. “My body and my heart are about to explode.”

Carrying a replica of the World Cup, the 32-year-old was heading downtown with her sister, Mariana, as they tried to figure out the best place to catch a glimpse of the team and, in particular, the captain.

“We’re going where they say Leo will be because we can’t wait to see him,” said Roldan. “Seeing him with that huge smile, with those bright eyes full of hope, it really fills our hearts with joy and happiness. We are so happy for this country to enjoy that happiness and I think Leo deserved it for years, and this was his moment.”

The players were all smiling as they watched the crowd gather to see them, many of them trying 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.

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

Thousands have set up camp since early Tuesday morning at the Obelisk, a famous Buenos Aires landmark and traditional site for the festivities.

“We are a little confused because we don’t know the bus route and a little frustrated because we have traveled so many kilometers and may not be able to see it,” said Giselle Pisani, 34, who has covered 350 kilometers (220 miles). With her family from the town of Olavarría.

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

The song “Muchachos” was written by a fan and became an unofficial folk anthem for the Argentina national team at the World Cup. It filled the streets as fans joined in singing it again and 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 3 years old, I don’t remember anything,” said Yael Turchynski, 39. “I want to live this intensely because the Argentine people need this happiness.”

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 to greet the team upon 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 he passed a banner that read, “Thank you champions.”

Rock band La Mosca welcomed the team and sang “Mochajos”, and several players, including Messi, were seen singing the words 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.

Prior to the team’s arrival, many were closely watching the players’ journey home. As the plane approached Argentine territory, nearly 200,000 people were tracking its path online and news channels provided live coverage of its arrival.

Several players posted pictures of the aircraft on social media. In one, Nicolas Tagliafico posted a photo of a World Cup trophy curled up in a plane seat as if it were another passenger.

Fernandez retweeted many congratulatory messages from other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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

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