French footballers return home to heroes' welcome

Above: Captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris holding the trophy as the French team arrived home yesterday after their World Cup victory. Left: Croatian national footballers greeting supporters as they rode in an open-top coach at Zagreb International Ai
Captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris holding the trophy as the French team arrived home yesterday after their World Cup victory. PHOTO: REUTERS
Above: Captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris holding the trophy as the French team arrived home yesterday after their World Cup victory. Left: Croatian national footballers greeting supporters as they rode in an open-top coach at Zagreb International Ai
Croatian national footballers greeting supporters as they rode in an open-top coach at Zagreb International Airport yesterday after returning from Russia.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • France's World Cup winners arrived back home yesterday at the main airport near Paris, greeted by cheering crowds and a guard of honour from the fire brigade which sprayed water over their plane.

Captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, flanked by coach Didier Deschamps, was the first to emerge from the Air France aircraft, raising the famed golden trophy before heading down the stairs and on to a freshly laid red carpet.

Forward Antoine Griezmann told fifa.com after France's 4-2 victory against Croatia in Moscow on Sunday: "We are so happy. We feel so proud, and we just want one thing: To go and celebrate this with the people of France."

The team were expected to go directly to the Champs-Elysees Avenue on an open-top double-decker bus, taking them to the scene of wild celebrations the night before. By mid-afternoon, hundreds of thousands of fans had gathered there for a chance to greet their heroes.

Les Bleus were also set to meet France President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte at the Elysee Palace later yesterday.

No date has yet been set for another ceremony to award the players with the Legion of Honour - the highest award for "exceptional service" to France.

Around one million fans gathered on the Champs-Elysees after the match on Sunday, watching the Arc de Triomphe light up in red, white and blue with the players' names and towns projected on to it.

 
 
 
 

All through the night, cars sped around Paris with people leaning out of windows or hanging out of car boots to a cacophony of car horns. Motorbikes zig-zagged around the streets with riders carrying flags.

Yesterday morning, the after-effects of the frenetic revelry were still visible. A number of smashed windows, an overturned car and the odd graffiti. There had been disturbances on Sunday and riot police fired teargas when some men broke into the Publicis Drugstore shop in the Champs-Elysees. Police later cleared the area with water cannon.

More than 19 million people in mainland France watched the match on TV, with hundreds of thousands gathered in fan-zones and outside bars across the country.

The Interior Ministry said there had been 292 arrests overnight following France's second World Cup title. Two died in the celebrations.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'French footballers return home to heroes' welcome'. Print Edition | Subscribe