Argentina stars forced to abandon bus parade

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Argentina players dance and sing on top of the bus during their World Cup-winning parade in Buenos Aires
Argentina’s footballers have won the World Cup for the first time since 1986

Argentina’s World Cup winners had to abandon an open-top bus parade in Buenos Aires and instead took a helicopter ride over the millions of ecstatic fans partying in the streets.

The squad showed off the trophy at the start of a planned eight-hour journey.

But the celebrations on packed roads became more chaotic, forcing a rethink.

“It was impossible to continue on the ground due to the explosion of joy,” tweeted presidential spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti.

The Argentine government declared Tuesday would be a national holiday in the South American country after Lionel Messi and his team-mates beat France in Sunday’s final.

After arriving home from Qatar in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the players left the Argentine Football Association (AFA) training complex on a 20-mile journey to the centre of Buenos Aires at 11:45 local time (14:45 GMT).

The journey was supposed to finish at the capital city’s iconic Obelisk monument, where hundred of thousands had gathered and created a party atmosphere, later that day.

But security forces would not let the bus continue to Plaza de la República – the public square where the Obelisk stands – after the celebrations became too chaotic.

“A thousand apologies on behalf of all of the champion players. [Such] a shame,” tweeted AFA president Chiqui Tapia.

With the majority of the jubilant fans wearing the national team’s blue and white colours, it was a sea of colour in Plaza de la República as they waited for the squad.

Hundreds of thousands Argentinians pack into Buenos Aires' Plaza de la República, which is where the World Cup winning-squad's bus parade will finish later on Tuesday
Hundreds of thousands Argentinians had packed into Buenos Aires’ Plaza de la República by midday on Tuesday

Banners were held aloft of captain Messi and the late Diego Maradona – another iconic Argentina player, captain of the 1986 World Cup champions and regarded as one of the greatest players ever – while other fans played instruments or climbed lampposts.

Hundreds of fans lined the streets, with many riding scooters and running behind the bus on a motorway, as the parade made its way towards Plaza de la República.

“It’s crazy, it’s incredible, it’s the best thing that can happen to you in life,” said Matias Gomez, 25, a metalworker.

“It is an enormous joy to see all these happy people, all together, one with the other, holding hands, giving each other hugs, kisses. We are all one today.”

Paris St-Germain forward Messi, who captained the side and cemented his place for many as the greatest footballer ever by lifting the World Cup, sat in the middle of a group of the squad on the top deck.

Earlier on Tuesday, he posted on Instagram showing him waking up alongside the trophy.

Argentina has been in party mode since Sunday’s dramatic penalty shootout win against France in Qatar, which gave the country its first World Cup win since Maradona lifted the trophy 36 years ago.

Messi, 35, finally achieved his World Cup dream as La Albiceleste won their third crown in one of the greatest finals in the tournament’s history.

Argentina's players - including captain Lionel Messi - celebrate with their adoring fans from an open-top bus during Tuesday's parade
The players danced and sang on the top of the bus as it moved through the city
Argentina fans climb on top of a bus top in Buenos Aires' Plaza de la República as they waited for the team's arrival
Fans climbed on top of a bus stop in Buenos Aires’ Plaza de la República as they waited for the team’s planned arrival
Argentina fans playing music and dancing in Buenos Aires
The celebrations were soundtracked by people playing musical instruments and encouraging others to dance
Argentina fans wears a Lionel Messi flag draped over his shoulders
Almost everyone at the parade was wearing Argentina blue and white

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