Millions of jubilant Argentina fans took to the streets of Buenos Aires on Tuesday to cheer the country’s World Cup-winning squad led by captain and talisman Lionel Messi, with crowds so huge that the planned open-top bus parade had to be discontinued.
The players were unable to reach the central Obelisco monument as they had planned due to concerns about their security and safety because of how massive the crowd turned out to be. It is estimated by local media that up to 4 million people were out on the streets to greet the squad. And so, they had to be transferred from their parade bus to helicopters instead.
Presidential spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti tweeted that the squad had decided to fly over the entire route in helicopters because it became impossible to continue on land due to a large number of cheering fans. She went on to say
“Let’s continue to celebrate in peace and show them our love and admiration!”
Television images around the world filmed large swathes of people all over the city, waiting around the Obelisco, while many others took over highways and major streets in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the world champions in what has already been labelled as one of the largest turnouts in history.
The team arrived back home in the early hours of Tuesday at Ezeiza airport where in spite of it being an odd hour (3 am), thousands were already waiting in anticipation to receive their heroes with banners being displayed, flares lit and drums rolling.
There have been celebrations and partying in Buenos Aires since the dramatic victory over France on Sunday, which has helped to play down the economic challenges currently bedevilling the South American nation, as it battles one of the world’s highest inflation rates. The penalty shootout win made the country world champions for the first time since Diego Maradona lifted the trophy in 1986 and the third in total.