Argentina declares national holiday for World Cup celebrations; massive crowds gear up to party with Messi

A heavy security operation has been planned with millions expected on the streets of the capital to celebrate Sunday's thrilling final victory

By Agencies

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Argentina fan plays the trumpet ahead of the victory parade. Photos: Reuters
Argentina fan plays the trumpet ahead of the victory parade. Photos: Reuters

Published: Tue 20 Dec 2022, 6:58 PM

Last updated: Tue 20 Dec 2022, 7:06 PM

Buenos Aires has been in party mode since Argentina's dramatic victory over France in Sunday's final in Qatar, which gave the country its first World Cup win since Diego Maradona hoisted the trophy 36 years ago.

Thousands of Argentines have began massing in the capital from dawn on Tuesday preparing to shower their World Cup heroes led by Lionel Messi with adulation.

The new world champions were due to head to the iconic Obelisk monument in central Buenos Aires in an open-top bus parade at midday (1500 GMT), the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said on Twitter.

The Argentine government declared Tuesday would be a bank holiday so that the entire country "can express their deepest joy for the national team".

The Albicelestes arrived in the country in the early hours of Tuesday and they were given a taste of what to expect during the celebration. Tens of thousands of people lined the route from the Ezeiza international airport, where they landed at 2:40 am, to the Argentine Football Association (AFA) training complex a short distance away.

A massive security operation has been planned with millions expected on the streets of Buenos Aires to celebrate Sunday's thrilling World Cup final victory.

Fans wearing the national team's blue and white replica shirts and draped in flags sang, danced and set off fireworks as they began camping out at night to secure spots along the planned route.

"We will be here all night and tomorrow as well," student Ayrton Kerdocas, 25, told AFP outside the airport while waiting for the team to arrive.

"Tomorrow we are not working, we won't do anything and we'll go directly to the Obelisk with Argentina."

A picture of Messi was emblazoned on the state airline tail (that few in the the team) with the words: "one team, one country, one dream" on its side.

The players made their way from the plane along a red carpet straight to a white open-top bus with the words "world champions" and three stars on its side as their World Cup theme song "Muchachos" by ska band La Mosca blared.

Excitement had been brewing since the party that began after Sunday's final ahead of the players' arrival.

"I came because of my passion for Argentina. I love Messi, I love the entire team," Alejandra Diaz, 55, a kindergarten teacher told AFP outside the airport.

Welder Javier Merina, 41, said he was "a Messi fanatic" and had come to the airport to try to get the star to sign a picture.

Messi, 35, 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.

Local media estimated that there were already more than 100,000 people waiting for the players at the Obeliso by mid-morning, with more crowds joining from streets on all sides.


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