Millions jam Buenos Aires streets to celebrate World Cup win

The Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup title ride on an open bus during their homecoming parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
APTOPIX Argentina Wcup Soccer Argentina soccer fans converge on the highways during a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup title, in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Mario De Fina)
Soccer fans look up for water thrown by residents in Buenos Aires, Argentina Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Fans descended into the streets of the capital eager to catch a glimpse of the open-top bus carrying the Argentine national soccer team that won the World Cup final. (AP Photo/Mario De Fina)
APTOPIX Argentina Wcup Soccer Captain Lionel Messi looks up during a homecoming parade for the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Argentina soccer fans crowd a highway for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup title, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
A mural of the late, soccer legend Diego Maradona stands tall as soccer fans walk to catch a glimpse of the open-top bus carrying the Argentine national soccer team that won the World Cup title during their homecoming parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Mario De Fina)
Argentina Wcup Soccer The Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup tournament rides on an open bus in a homecoming parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans welcome home the Argentine soccer team after it won the World Cup tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
APTOPIX Argentina Wcup Soccer Police clear remaining soccer fans who waited for hours for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup at the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Riot police fires a shotgun as they clear remaining soccer fans who waited for hours for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup at the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Police detain a man as they clear the Obelisk of the last remaining soccer fans who waited for hours for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans welcome home the Argentine soccer team after it won the World Cup tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans who waited for hours for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup, threaten with glass bottles police who were working to remove the fans, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Police form a phalanx during clashes with remaining soccer fans who waited for hours for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup at the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina Wcup Soccer A man walks by police clashing with soccer fans who waited for hours for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup at the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
APTOPIX Argentina Wcup Soccer Argentina's Lionel Messi holds the FIFA World Cup trophy as he deplanes, with coach Lionel Scaloni, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Players from the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup wave from the bus that takes them to Argentina Soccer Association, where they will spend the night after landing at Ezeiza airport on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina's Lionel Messi holds the FIFA World Cup trophy as he deplanes, with coach Lionel Scaloni, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina's captain Lionel Messi walks holding the FIFA World Cup trophy, embraced by coach Lionel Scaloni, after deplaning in Buenos Aires, Argentina, early Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. Left is Claudia Tapia, president of Argentina Soccer Association. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez waves upon the arrival of players from the Argentine soccer team in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina's captain Lionel Messi holds the FIFA World Cup trophy as he deplanes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, early Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina's Lionel Messi holds the FIFA World Cup trophy as he deplanes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, early Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina's Lionel Messi hoists the FIFA World Cup trophy as he deplanes, with coach Lionel Scaloni, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Soccer fans surround the bus taking Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup to the Argentina Soccer Association grounds where they will spend the night after landing at Ezeiza airport on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentine soccer fans descend on the Obelisk monument for a homecoming parade for the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
Soccer fans spray foam as they watch the bus taking the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup to the Argentina Soccer Association grounds where they will spend the night after landing at Ezeiza airport on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Soccer fans wave at the bus taking the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup to the soccer federation training grounds where they will spend the night after landing at Ezeiza airport on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentine soccer fans holding signs with the years their team won previous World Cup tournaments gather at the Obelisk monument for a homecoming parade after the team won another World Cup title in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
Fans kiss while waiting for the arrival of the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup outside the AFA training grounds in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
Fans waits for the arrival of the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup outside the AFA training grounds in Buenos Aires, Argentina, late Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans watch fireworks welcoming home the players from the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup after they landed at Ezeiza airport on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Fans welcome home the players from the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup after they landed at Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer The Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup tournament rides on an open bus in a homecoming parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
APTOPIX Argentina Wcup Soccer The Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup title ride on an open bus during their homecoming parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans welcome home the Argentine soccer team after it won the World Cup tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)
The Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup title ride on top of an open bus during their homecoming parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Police detain soccer fans after clashes around the capital's Obelisk where fans waited for hours for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina Wcup Soccer A helicopter flies over the Obelisk where people gathered in hopes of seeing the Argentine national soccer team that won the World Cup title in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. So many people swarmed highways surrounding the capital that the players ended up having to abandon the bus and get on helicopters, and what was set to become a parade through the streets became an aerial parade. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans waiting for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup title, are cooled off with water sprayed by municipal workers, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the Argentine World Cup champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans waiting to see the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup tournament are sprayed with water by municipal workers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans refresh themselves with water that falls from a broken pipe, after waiting for hours for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup title, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the Argentine World Cup champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans wave at players on an open-top bus carrying the Argentine national soccer team that won the World Cup title in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Argentina Wcup Soccer A mural of the late, soccer legend Diego Maradona stands tall as soccer fans walk to catch a glimpse of the open-top bus carrying the Argentine national soccer team that won the World Cup title during their homecoming parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Mario De Fina)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans wave flags from the Obelisk monument as they wait to see the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Lionel Messi waves from an open top bus driving the soccer team that won the World Cup title during a homecoming parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Argentine soccer fans climb on highway signs for a homecoming parade for the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Mario De Fina)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans wade in water fountain after waiting for hours for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup title, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the Argentine World Cup champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Argentina soccer players, from left, Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul, Lionel Messi and Nicolas Otamendi sit on the top of a bus during their team's homecoming parade after winning the World Cup tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Argentina Wcup Soccer A dummy of the FIFA World Cup trophy hangs at the entrance of the Argentina Soccer Association training grounds where the team that won the Wold Cup will spend the night after landing at Ezeiza airport on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Captain Lionel Messi, send from left, sits with Angel de Maria, second from right, and Nicolas Otamendi, right, atop of a bus driving the players from the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup after they landed at Ezeiza airport on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans continue to celebrate outside the Casa Rosada presidential palace, despite waiting for hours for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup title that was abruptly cut short, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the Argentine World Cup champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Coach Lionel Scaloni waves upon the arrival of the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup to the training grounds where they will spend the night after landing at Ezeiza airport on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
APTOPIX Argentina Wcup Soccer Men dressed in traditional gaucho outfits wait for the pass of the bus taking the Argentine team that worn the World Cup to the training grounds where they will spend the night after landing at Ezeiza airport on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans sit on the plaza of the Casa Rosada presidential palace, after waiting for hours for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup title, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the Argentine World Cup champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
The Argentine soccer team shows off their World Cup trophy from a bus as they are welcomed home in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. The bus window reads in Spanish "World Champions." (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Fans waits for the arrival of the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup outside the AFA training grounds in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
Coach Lionel Scaloni waves during a homecoming parade for the Argentine soccer team that won the World Cup tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Soccer fans welcome home the Argentine soccer team after it won the World Cup title, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
Soccer fans welcome home the Argentine soccer team after it won the World Cup tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Argentina WCup Soccer Argentina soccer fans stand outside the Casa Rosada presidential palace, after waiting for hours for a homecoming parade for the players who won the World Cup title, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. A parade to celebrate the Argentine World Cup champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Soccer fans celebrating that Argentina won the World Cup tournament set a flag on a monument in front of the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Mario De Fina)
Argentina Wcup Soccer Lionel Messi waves from an open-top bus driving the soccer team that won the World Cup title during a homecoming parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A parade to celebrate the Argentine World Cup champions was abruptly cut short Tuesday as millions of people poured onto thoroughfares, highways and overpasses in a chaotic attempt to catch a glimpse of the national team that won one of the great World Cup finals of all time.

So many jubilant, flag-waving fans swarmed the capital that the players had to abandon the open-air bus transporting them to Buenos Aires and board helicopters for a capital flyover that the government billed as an aerial parade.

“The world champions are flying over the whole route on helicopters because it was impossible to continue by land due to the explosion of people’s happiness,” Gabriela Cerruti, the spokesperson for President Alberto Fernández, wrote on social media.

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

Some fans continued celebrating in the streets, while others headed out of Buenos Aires with long faces, complaining they were unable to pay their respects to the team that brought home the country’s first World Cup trophy since 1986.

“We’re angry because the government didn’t organize this properly so we could all celebrate,” said Diego Benavídez, 25, who had been waiting since early morning to see the team. “They stole the World Cup from us.”

Others, however, took it in stride.

“I’m not disappointed, we lived the party,” said Nicolás López, 33, who was in downtown Buenos Aires with his 7-year-old daughter.

The parade was suspended shortly after two people jumped from a bridge onto the open-top bus carrying the players. One made it inside the bus, the other fell onto the pavement.

Football association head Claudio Tapia blamed law enforcement for the changeup of plans. “The same security organisms that were escorting us are not allowing us to move forward,” Tapia wrote on social media. “I apologize in the name of all the champion players.”

Toward nightfall, when most of the fans had already poured out of downtown Buenos Aires, there were isolated clashes between a few stragglers and law enforcemen. At least eight people were injured, according to local media reports.

The incidents began when firefighters went to the Obelisk, the iconic Buenos Aires landmark that is the traditional site of celebrations, to evict a few people who had broken their way inside the monument.

The bus had been moving at a snail’s pace for more than four hours through the throngs of humanity before the overland parade was cut short. Team Captain Lionel Messi and the rest of the players waved at the massive crowd as they carried the World Cup trophy aloft after securing the country’s third title.

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

The World Cup and the success of the Messi-led squad brought much-needed good news for a country stuck for years in economic doldrums and suffering one of the world’s highest inflation rates, with nearly 4-in-10 people living in poverty.

“There’s an immense union among all Argentines — unity, happiness. It’s as if you can breathe another air, there’s another energy in the air,” said Victoria Roldán. “My body and heart are about to burst.”

Carrying a World Cup replica, the 32-year-old and her 36-year-old sister, Mariana, were eager to catch a glimpse of the team and in particular its captain, Messi.

“We’re dying to see him,” Roldán said. “Seeing him with that immense smile, with those bright eyes filled with hope, it really fills our heart with joy and happiness. … I think that Leo has deserved it for years, and this was his moment.”

The players were all smiles as they watched the multitudes hostling to get as close as possible to the bus. An estimated 4 million people were in the streets by Tuesday afternoon, according to local media citing police sources.

“I celebrate the way the people took to the streets to honor our squad,” President Alberto Fernández wrote on social media after the parade was cut short.

Celebrating fans took over highways, avenues and the access routes into the capital as temperatures climbed to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

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

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

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

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

“This is a party. The last time Argentina was a 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 started filling up Plaza de Mayo in front of Government House, amid rumors the players might go there for a reprise of the festivities for Argentina’s 1986 World Cup victory that were held there. Fernández’s administration had offered the palatial mansion, popularly known as the Casa Rosada, or Pink House, according to Security Minister Aníbal Fernández.

The raucous welcome for the team began before dawn as thousands of fans lined up upon their return from Qatar.

The players were beaming as they descended from their plane in Ezeiza, outside Argentina’s capital, shortly before 3 a.m. onto a red carpet. Messi was the first one out, carrying the World Cup trophy, flanked by coach Lionel Scaloni, who put his arm around the captain as they walked past a sign that read, “Thank you, champions.”

The team was welcomed by rock band La Mosca singing “Muchachos,” and several players, including Messi, could be seen singing the words as they boarded the bus taking them to the Argentine Football Association headquarters.

It took the bus an hour to travel the 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) from the airport to AFA headquarters, where the players were welcomed 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 while he slept.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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