A triumphant open-top bus parade by Argentina’s World Cup-winning soccer team was abandoned for safety reasons as around 4 million fans lined the streets of Buenos Aires, forcing players to chase their helicopter tour.
The head of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) has confirmed that the players were unable to reach the central Obelisco monument as planned due to the size of the crowd.
Footage also showed a fan jumping onto the bus from an airlift, falling into the upper deck occupied by the Argentinian players. A second fan tried to follow him but missed the bus, narrowly avoiding Lionel Messi, as he fell backwards and into the crowd below.
The players were then transferred to helicopters to wave to the crowd from the air.
The open-top bus had been stopped as fans poured into the streets to celebrate Argentina’s first World Cup victory since 1986.
AFA chief Chiqui Tapia tweeted: “They won’t let us greet all the people who were at the Obelisco.
“The security guards who escorted us do not allow us to move forward. A thousand apologies on behalf of all champion players.
Another statement from the organization said: “The players will end the festivities by flying a helicopter over the crowds of fans who gathered in the city of Buenos Aires to celebrate the victory in Qatar.
“They made this decision after verifying that they could not continue to advance by bus in the middle of the crowd.”
President Alberto Fernandez declared a national holiday on Tuesday so the country could celebrate victory.
In the afternoon, fans began arriving at the Buenos Aires airport and outside the AFA headquarters in hopes of catching a glimpse of the team.
On Qatar’s long flight, Messi held the World Cup while Nicolas Tagliafico posted a picture of the trophy strapped to a seat.
The World Cup and the team’s success brought much-needed good news for a country that has been stuck in the economic doldrums for years, which suffers from one of the highest inflation rates in the world and where nearly four out of ten people live in poverty.
Mr Fernandez retweeted several congratulatory messages on the World Cup victory from other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Thank you for those greetings, President Putin,” Fernandez wrote on Twitter after a phone call with the Russian leader.
“Let the happiness that unites Argentina today with so many countries in the world serve as an example: our societies need unity and peace.