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Euphoric Argentines ready to party with Messi, World Cup winners

Photo: Tomas Cuesta / AFP

| By AFP | Barnaby Chesterman |

Thousands of Argentines began massing in the capital from dawn on Tuesday preparing to shower their World Cup heroes led by Lionel Messi with adulation.

The new world champions were due to head to the iconic Obelisk monument in central Buenos Aires in an open-top bus parade at midday (1500 GMT), the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said on Twitter.

And they were given a taste of what was to come when they returned home from Qatar in the early hours of Tuesday morning when tens of thousands of people lined the route from the Ezeiza international airport, where they landed at 2:40 am, to the Argentine Football Association (AFA) training complex a short distance away.

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“Good morning,” wrote Messi on his social media accounts, alongside a picture of him lying in bed hugging the World Cup trophy at the AFA complex, where the team spent the night.

A massive security operation has been planned with millions expected on the streets of Buenos Aires to celebrate Sunday’s thrilling World Cup final victory over France.

Tuesday has been declared a public holiday for the celebrations.

Fans wearing the national team’s blue and white replica shirts and draped in flags sang, danced and set off fireworks as they began camping out at night to secure spots along the planned route.

“We will be here all night and tomorrow as well,” student Ayrton Kerdocas, 25, told AFP outside the airport while waiting for the team to arrive.

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“Tomorrow we are not working, we won’t do anything and we’ll go directly to the Obelisk with Argentina.”

Argentina won the final in Qatar 4-2 on penalties after a rollercoaster 3-3 draw over 120 minutes of unparalleled drama for their first world title in 36 years.

Messi, who scored twice in the final, was the first player to emerge from the plane, holding the World Cup aloft, with coach Lionel Scaloni right behind him.

Forward Julian Alvarez, a revelation in Qatar with his four goals, was one of the next players out of the Aerolineas Argentinas Airbus A330.

A picture of Messi was emblazoned on the plane’s tail with the words: “one team, one country, one dream” on its side.

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The players made their way from the plane along a red carpet straight to a white open-top bus with the words “world champions” and three stars on its side as their World Cup theme song “Muchachos” by ska band La Mosca blared.

‘Better than 86’

Excitement had been brewing since the party that began after Sunday’s final ahead of the players’ arrival.

“I came because of my passion for Argentina. I love Messi, I love the entire team,” Alejandra Diaz, 55, a kindergarten teacher told AFP outside the airport.

Welder Javier Merina, 41, said he was “a Messi fanatic” and had come to the airport to try to get the star to sign a picture.

Messi, 35, finally crowned his record-breaking career with football’s biggest prize as he produced one of the greatest World Cup final performances, scoring a first-half penalty and netting again in extra time.

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In doing so he emulated his predecessor as Argentina’s idol, Diego Maradona who inspired the country to their second world title with a series of match-winning displays at Mexico 1986.

“I remember ’86 but this victory yesterday was much more emotional and much more stressful,” architect Ricardo Grunfeld, 65, told AFP.

Argentina had led 2-0 with 10 minutes of normal time left and 3-2 with only two minutes of extra-time to go but Kylian Mbappe completed only the second World Cup final hat trick in history to take the gripping final to penalties, before Gonzalo Montiel swept home the decisive spot kick.

Despite the huge numbers of revelers during Sunday’s festivities fewer than 20 people were arrested for isolated incidents of violence or theft, authorities said.

‘It warms the heart’

France’s beaten players were given a rousing reception by fans in central Paris on Monday after their return from Qatar.

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They appeared on the balcony of the Crillon Hotel overlooking the Place de la Concorde.

“Frankly, it’s magnificent, it warms the heart, it’s a great pleasure to see that we were able to make so many French people proud and happy,” forward Marcus Thuram told TF1 TV.

Goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris told TF1 that it was a chance to “greet them (the fans), to thank them for their support and, after yesterday’s pain, to seek their consolation.” 

The captivating final rounded off one of the most controversial World Cups in history in which Qatari organisers faced persistent questions about the country’s treatment of migrant workers and its laws on homosexuality.

Shortly afterwards the bus left for the AFA complex.

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Central America

Defense Minister commends salvadoran soldier for Central American Cross Country victory

The Minister of Defense, Francis Merino Monroy, congratulated soldier Idelma Lizeth Delgado Juárez, the Central American Cross Country Champion of 2024.

The minister explained that this weekend the III Central American Cross Country and Race Walking Championship took place in the Republic of Guatemala, where members of the Salvadoran team had an outstanding performance.

“In addition to our champion, the national team includes three more members from the Armed Forces, who brought honor to the name of El Salvador,” he added.

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Sports

Super Bowl shatters viewership records with 123.4 million tuning in for Chiefs’ victory

The Super Bowl last Sunday, where the Kansas City Chiefs emerged victorious with a 25-22 win over the San Francisco 49ers and featured Taylor Swift as a star spectator, achieved a record-breaking audience of 123.4 million viewers, setting a new benchmark for television broadcasts in U.S. history.

This spectacle surpassed the previous record held by last year’s Super Bowl, in which the Chiefs also clinched the title, this time against the Philadelphia Eagles, gathering 115.1 million viewers.

The 2024 Super Bowl ranks just behind the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, which had an estimated viewership of between 125 and 150 million people in the U.S. However, the comparison is somewhat imprecise since the moon landing was broadcast across various networks, whereas the 2024 Super Bowl was exclusively aired on CBS and its affiliated channels and platforms.

Data from Nielsen Fast National and Adobe Analytics, released by the NFL in a statement on Monday, showed that 120 million people watched the game on CBS.

The remaining viewers tuned in through Paramount+, Nickelodeon, Univision, CBS Sports, and NFL+. Notably, the 2.2 million viewers on Univision set a new record for a Super Bowl broadcast on a Spanish-speaking network.

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Águila midfielder Darwin Cerén detained over sexual assault allegations

The National Civil Police reported the arrest of soccer player Darwin Cerén, a midfielder for Águila in the Major Soccer League.

“We have arrested Darwin Adelso Cerén, 34, for the crime of other sexual assaults against a woman,” the Police stated.

The arrest was made with a warrant issued by the Attorney General’s Office following an investigation, added the PNC.

The arrest took place in San Miguel.

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