BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AFP) — Millions of Argentines who crammed the streets of Buenos Aires to celebrate an unforgettable moment with Lionel Messi and his World Cup winning teammates instead found themselves at a giant party bereft of its hallmark bus parade.
Friends, families, even rival fans traveled from across the country to the capital to bask in the glory of a first world title in 36 years.
Yet most ended up missing the main show after the chaotic bus trip was aborted nearly five hours after it began, with police deciding it could not go on for security reasons.
Despite the disappointment, the festivities continued for many, with the day becoming an exhibition of Argentines’ effervescent passion for football.
With almost everyone dressed in the team’s distinctive blue and white jersey on a baking hot day, a unified presence masked the deep social fissures and economic inequality of a country grappling with years of financial turmoil.
It was an unprecedented party with an estimated five to six million people taking to the streets of Buenos Aires.
“I can’t explain this (feeling) with words but with emotion,” Paola Zattera, 43, who works in administration, told AFP.
She was six years old the last time there was a World Cup victory parade in Buenos Aires, when the late Diego Maradona was the people’s champion.
She said she “didn’t understand much” about what was going on back then but this time was determined to make the most of it.
“I don’t care if I only see them from afar. I’m here and this is historic!”