Argentina: World Cup team abandon bus parade and transfer to helicopters due to crowds

Fans - millions of them - mobbed the open topped bus, carrying the victorious team. Some even tried to jump into it from bridges along its route.

A parade to celebrate the Argentine World Cup champions was called off on Tuesday as millions of people attempted to catch a glimpse of the national football team. So many fans swarmed the capital that the players had to abandon the open-air bus transporting them to Buenos Aires and get on helicopters for a flyover of the capital. “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.

Fans packed the roads in downtown Buenos Aires. Credit: AP

The bus left the Argentine Football Association headquarters outside the capital and moved slowly as fans lined the highway, many waving Argentine flags.

Messi and his teammates were all smiles as they watched the multitudes of fans gathered to see them, many trying to get as close as possible to the bus.

An estimated four million people were in the streets by Tuesday afternoon, according to local media citing police sources.

Celebrating fans took over highways, avenues and the access routes into the capital, often slowing the bus carrying the players to a crawl as temperatures climbed to 30 degrees.

Thousands had set up camp since early on Tuesday morning at the Obelisk - the iconic Buenos Aires landmark that is the traditional site of celebrations.

Thousands of fans descended on the Obelisk monument in Buenos Aires. Credit: AP

President Alberto Fernández declared a national holiday for 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.

Fans in Buenos Aires packed the streets to celebrate the historic victory

By mid-afternoon, supporters 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, although no one knew for certain.

President Fernández’s administration had offered the palatial mansion, popularly known as the Casa Rosada, or Pink House, according to Security Minister Aníbal Fernández.

There were no plans for President Fernández, nor any other officials of his unpopular government, to participate in the celebrations.

Lionel Messi speaks to teammates Angel Di Maria and Nicolas Otamendi during the open-top bus parade. Credit: AP

Thousands of fans had lined up before dawn to welcome the team home from Qatar.

The players were beaming as they descended from their plane in Ezeiza, outside Argentina’s capital, shortly before 3am onto a red carpet.

Messi was the first player out, carrying the World Cup trophy, flanked by manager Lionel Scaloni, who put his arm around the captain as they walked past a sign that read: "Thank you, champions."

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