Argentina forced to abandon World Cup parade after fans bring Buenos Aires to standstill

Millions of supporters take to the streets as Messi and fellow players ditch open-top bus in favour of a hastily organised helicopter tour

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World Cup winners Argentina were forced to abandon their homecoming parade in Buenos Aires due to the phenomenal number of supporters out partying in the streets.

Millions of ecstatic fans brought the capital to a standstill as Lionel Messi and his Argentina teammates set off in an open-top bus at the start of a scheduled eight-hour journey.

But as the celebrations became more chaotic and fever pitched, the players – who defeated France in Sunday's dramatic final in Qatar – were unable to reach the central Obelisco monument as planned because the route was completely blocked by the estimated four million people out to party.

Three hours into the procession, the bus had barely covered a third of the planned path.

As security fears increased – social media footage showed some fans trying to jump on to the bus when it passed under a bridge – the players were instead transferred into helicopters for a bird's-eye view of the incredible scenes.

“The world champions are flying over the entire route in helicopters because it became impossible to continue on land due to the explosion of joy,” presidential spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti wrote on Twitter.

The Argentine government declared on Tuesday would be a national holiday in the South American country after Messi and his teammates beat France in a penalty shoot-out to secure a third world crown – and their first since 1986.

The squad had touched down at Ezeiza International Airport shortly before 3am to begin a day of celebrations. Even at that early hour, there were thousands were waiting with banners, flags and flares there to greet tge team.

Messi and Co then spent a short time resting at the Argentine Football Association training complex in the Ezeiza suburb of the capital before beginning the parade journey.

By midday, millions had already congregated in downtown Buenos Aires, with major roads shut down for the parade. People held up banners of Messi and late icon Diego Maradona, played instruments or climbed lampposts or bus stops.

Roads started to clear after the players took to the sky in helicopters, with some people left disappointed not to see the team.

“They don't let us get to greet all the people who were at the Obelisco. The security agents that escorted us won't allow us to move forward,” tweeted Chiqui Tapia, president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA).

“A thousand apologies on behalf of all the champion players,” he added. “Thanks for so much love! We are the top football nation in the world! The cup is back home.”

Argentina won the final in Doha 4-2 on penalties after a rollercoaster 3-3 draw for their first world title in 36 years. “This trophy that we won is also for all those that did not manage to win it in previous World Cups we played, such as Brazil 2014,” Messi said on social media, referring to the team that lost 1-0 to Germany in the title match eight years ago.

Updated: December 21, 2022, 6:19 AM