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Rediff.com  » Sports » PIX: French fans give heroes' welcome to World Cup champions

PIX: French fans give heroes' welcome to World Cup champions

Last updated on: July 17, 2018 09:37 IST

The victory has helped foster a sense of national unity, with commentators playing up the fact the squad, the second-youngest in the competition, includes many with central and north African heritage, even if all but two were born in France.

The French World Cup-winning team celebrate with President  Emmanuel Macron on Monday

IMAGE: French President Emmanuel Macron pose with the French soccer team at the Elysee Palace in Paris, before a reception to honour them for their World Cup victory . Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of ecstatic French fans celebrated the return of their World Cup winning football team on Monday, jumping and chanting "We Are The Champions" as their bus paraded down the Champs Elysees before a special presidential reception.

IMAGE: Football fans wave the French national flag, light flares and cheer for France's team players as they celebrate on the roof of a bus while parading down the Champs-Elysee avenue to celebrate their World Cup triumph, in Paris, on Monday. Photograph: Eric Feferberg/Pool via Reuters

"Les Bleus", a dynamic, young team that won an open, fast-paced final 4-2 with Croatia in Moscow, appeared at the Elysee palace, where they burst into a spontaneous rendition of the "La Marseillaise" national anthem with President Emmanuel Macron and his wife.

"Thank you for having made us proud," Macron told the players in the presidential palace's gardens.

"Never forget where you come from: all the clubs across France that trained you."

IMAGE: French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte pose with the France football team. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

French media spent the day lauding the team's accomplishments.

More than 300,000 people filled the Champs Elysees, the area around the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde on Sunday night, partying into the early hours, singing the Marseillaise, setting off firecrackers and blaring horns until the sun rose.

"We had so much fun last night, the city was full of joy, so much celebration," a woman dressed in red, white and blue who had made her way out to Charles de Gaulle airport told BFM TV. "All we want is a wave from the players."

IMAGE: France's players celebrate on the roof of a bus while parading down the Champs-Elysee avenue. Photograph: Eric Feferberg/Pool via Reuters

Newspapers hailed a second World Cup triumph for France, after their first victory on home soil in 1998.

"History Made" declared sports daily L'Equipe. Photos of superstars Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba, as well as shots of the team holding aloft and kissing the trophy in the pouring rain, dominated coverage.

Brigitte Macron, the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, and player Paul Pogba hold the trophy aloft

IMAGE: Brigitte Macron, the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, and player Paul Pogba hold the trophy aloft. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

The victory has helped foster a sense of national unity, with commentators playing up the fact the squad, the second-youngest in the competition, includes many with central and north African heritage, even if all but two were born in France.


France has suffered years of tension and self-examination since a series of attacks by Islamist gunmen during 2015 that left more than 140 dead, including 89 killed in the Bataclan theatre in Paris. In some small way, the World Cup has helped lift the nation as it remains wary of the threat.

IMAGE: France's players celebrate on the roof of a bus while parading down the Champs-Elysee avenue. Photograph: Eric Feferberg/Pool via Reuters

When France won its first World Cup 20 years ago, with Zinedine Zidane its talisman and playmaker, the team was referred to as "Black-Blanc-Beur" (Black-White-Arab), a positive reference to its diverse ethnic make-up.

But some were keen to put that phrase to one side, seeing in it a sense of separateness, even if it was meant positively.

"We're not in 1998," said Mounir Mahjoubi, the secretary of state for digital affairs, whose parents emigrated from Morocco.

"We're not still celebrating 'Black-Blanc-Beur', we're celebrating brotherhood," he said of the current team.

IMAGE: France football team's World Cup win parade at Champs-Elysee avenue. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

For Macron, who became president last year at the age of 39, leading his political movement to victory against the odds, the success is also likely to have positive repercussions after a slump in the polls amid a host of economic reforms.

The Paris metro system got into the celebratory mood, announcing the names of a number of stations were being briefly changed to honour the players and coach, Didier Deschamps.

France player Olivier Giroud holds the trophy with teammates at the Elysee Palace

IMAGE: France player Olivier Giroud holds the trophy with teammates at the Elysee Palace. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer

Notre-Dame des Champs station was relabelled "Notre Didier Deschamps", and Victor Hugo was switched to "Victor Hugo Lloris" after the captain and goalkeeper.  

On Monday morning, the after-effects of Sunday night's frenetic revelry were still visible. A number of smashed windows, an overturned car and graffiti scrawled here and there, including the phrase "Liberte, Egalite, Mbappe", a reference to the national motto "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite".

IMAGE: More than 300,000 people filled the Champs Elysees, the area around the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

On Twitter, Brazilian legend Pele paid tribute to the exploits of Mbappe, France's 19-year-old superstar, saying that if the teenager kept equalling his goal-scoring records, Pele might have to strap his boots back on.

Mbappe replied to the tweet in English saying "The king will always remain the king", quickly gaining 15,000 retweets.

And it is not just the capital that has been consumed by football fever. From Nice and Marseille in the south to Lille in the north, Nantes in the west and scores of towns and cities in between, TV stations were full of images of red, white and blue clad fans singing and dancing in France's streets and squares.

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