An estimated four million fans shut down roads and highways in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Tuesday during a massive celebration of the country’s World Cup victory. The celebration parade was cut short as millions descended upon the bus carrying Argentina’s national team and its captain, Lionel Messi, according to the Associated Press.
The bus had been crawling through the capital for four hours, unable to advance at a steady pace due to the density of the crowd around it, as the AP explains:
An estimated 4 million people were in the streets by Tuesday afternoon, according to local media citing police sources.
“I celebrate the way the people took to the streets to honor our squad,” President Alberto Fernández wrote on social media after the parade was cut short.
Celebrating fans took over highways, avenues and the access routes into the capital as temperatures climbed to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).
Thousands had set up camp since early Tuesday morning at the Obelisk.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup winners were forced to board a helicopter and continue the celebration in an impromptu “aerial parade” after two people jumped onto the open-air bus as it drove beneath under an overpass bridge. One individual made it aboard the bus while the other fell onto the pavement.
The athletes were then flown over “key points” where fans had gathered, before the players were finally taken back to the Argentine Football Association (AFA) headquarters, outside of Buenos Aires. But the fans lingered on the roads and highways even after the team’s flyover.
After the flyover, the AFA players and team captain Leo Messi boarded the bus and were taken back to the football club’s HQ where they spent the night. It took the bus an hour to travel just under seven miles due to the crowds.
The Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, had declared a national holiday on Tuesday so that the country could celebrate its first World Cup victory since 1986 — which is also Argentina’s third World Cup win overall.
But the holiday declaration may have had unintended and unfortunate consequences as the celebrations became unruly later in the evening; a few fans broke into the capital’s famous Obelisk after most of the festivities had passed, and firefighters were called in to remove them from the landmark.
No one was injured during the early stages of the celebration, when major roads and highways were essentially shut down by the throng of fans, but at least eight people were injured later on during “isolated clashes” with police enforcement.