Argentina players evacuated by helicopter amid parade chaos
Argentina’s World Cup homecoming descended into chaos on Tuesday as one person reportedly died and a five-year-old boy was left in a coma as millions took to the streets.
Lionel Messi’s team beat France on penalties at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar on Sunday to claim a third World Cup in their history.
It was reported that up to three million people headed to the Obelisk monument in central Buenos Aires to celebrate the win, with thousands also lining the streets in the early hours of Tuesday morning when Lionel Scaloni’s heroes touched down at Ezeiza International Airport and were taken to the Argentine Football Association’s (AFA) headquarters on an open top bus.
Later that day, the party recommenced in the Argentine capital with another bus parade that brought an estimated four million people out to party.
But the planned eight-hour celebrations had to be cut short by the authorities amid a 24-year-old man died falling through a roof while “jumping up and down” in celebration.
The AFA’s president Chiqui Tapia confirmed just before 4pm local time that the bus parade needed to be shelved.
“They won't allow us to greet everyone who was at the Obelisk,” he tweeted.
“The security organizations that were escorting us won't let us continue. I apologize in the name of all the players. A real shame.”
Argentina’s heroes had to be evacuated by helicopter after fans were seen jumping onto the team bus from bridges.
As local television broadcasted images of spectators looking up towards the sky at the players being whisked away to AFA headquarters.
Argentine presidential spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti tweeted that the world champions were “flying along the route they were taking because it was impossible to continue by road with the explosion of happiness.”
“Let's continue celebrating in peace and showing them our love and admiration,” she added.
Yet as news spread that the team would not be heading to the Obelisk where the masses had congregated once more, and would instead great fans from the 25 de Mayo motorway, reports emerged of missiles being thrown at police, vandalism, and fans hijacking a police car before partying on top of it.
In addition to the fan who died from his injuries at the Fernandez Hospital, there were also fears for a five-year-old boy who sustained a serious head injury after an incident in Plaza San Martin.
According to national newspaper La Nacion, a piece of marble fell from a monument and struck the child, who remains in intensive care.
Following Argentina’s dramatic victory, the Argentine government declared that Tuesday would be a bank holiday so that the entire country of 46 million people could “express their deepest joy for the national team.”
Captain Lionel Messi, who scored twice in the thrilling 3-3 draw in regular and extra time, was also looking forward to the celebrations.
“I want to be in Argentina to see how crazy it is,” the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner explained.
“I want them to wait for me, I can't wait to go there and enjoy it with them.”