Argentina Prepares For World Cup Winners’ Welcome Home Party

Argentines waited eagerly to welcome home their World Cup heroes on Monday as France’s beaten stars arrived back in Paris following the remarkable final drama in Qatar.

The South American capital is preparing for a massive street party with the new world champions due to arrive late on Monday night.

“Crowned with glory,” read a banner on a newspaper kiosk in Buenos Aires, while Clarin and La Prensa dailies both sent a huge “Thank you” to Lionel Messi and his team-mates for winning the country’s third world title, and first in 36 years.

Argentina won the final in Qatar 4-2 on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw over 120 minutes of unparallelled drama.

The party that began after Sunday’s final was briefly on pause as local city workers continued to clean up the debris from the celebrations when millions took to the streets in jubilation.

The team is guaranteed a white-hot reception when they land at the Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires, at 2:25 am (0525 GMT) Tuesday.

“I’m going to greet them at the airport. Now that they have been crowned we have to greet them and thank them,” Jose Luis Quinoga, 56, told AFP at the Obelisk memorial in central Buenos Aires, where the night before more than a million people celebrated.

A private reception at a VIP suite in the airport has been arranged to greet the returning players and the Argentine football association (AFA) said they will celebrate with fans at the Obelisk on Tuesday.

“I will leave work and the first thing I will do is come here,” Julieta Rosel, 23, told AFP at the monument.

Before then they are due to rest at the AFA training complex near the airport where already in the early afternoon on Monday there was a huge police presence surrounding the facility as fans started to gather.

– Almost ‘no incidents’ –
Messi finally crowned his record-breaking career with football’s biggest prize as he produced one of the greatest World Cup final performances, scoring a first-half penalty and netting again in extra time.

In doing so he emulated his predecessor as Argentina’s idol, Diego Maradona who inspired the country to their second world title with a series of match-winning displays at Mexico 1986.

“I remember ’86 but this victory yesterday was much more emotional and much more stressful,” architect Ricardo Grunfeld, 65, told AFP.

“I don’t know if there’s any difference with ’86 but this comes at a good time,” added Zulema Guereri, 80.

Argentina had led 2-0 with 10 minutes of normal time left and 3-2 with only two minutes of extra-time to go but Kylian Mbappe completed only the second World Cup final hat-trick in history to take the gripping final to penalties, before Gonzalo Montiel swept home the decisive spot kick.

Despite the huge numbers of revelers during Sunday’s festivities “people acted in a very positive way,” a spokesperson for the municipality said.

Fewer than 20 people were arrested for isolated incidents of violence or theft.

There were some signs of vandalism with smashed shop windows near the Obeslik, which also suffered some damage to cameras and an internal stairwell after people tore down protective barriers and broke open a door, a worker clearing debris told AFP on Monday.

Normal Monday morning life seemed to have resumed with street vendors selling their regular wares rather than football jerseys and flags.

– ‘It warms the heart’ –
France’s players were given a rousing reception by fans in central Paris on Monday after their return from Qatar.

They appeared on the balcony of the Crillon Hotel overlooking the Place de la Concorde.

“Frankly, it’s magnificent, it warms the heart, it’s a great pleasure to see that we were able to make so many French people proud and happy,” forward Marcus Thuram told TF1 TV.

They landed at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport just before 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) where a caravan of coaches took them straight to the center of Paris.

Goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris told TF1 that it was a chance to “greet them (the fans), to thank them for their support and, after yesterday’s pain, to seek their consolation.”

The captivating final rounded off one of the most controversial World Cups in history.

Qatari organisers faced persistent questions about the country’s treatment of migrant workers and its laws on homosexuality.

Football’s world governing body FIFA said the cumulative stadium attendance was 3.4 million spectators and that more than one million visitors travelled to Qatar to watch the matches.


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