FANS SWAMP STREETS AS TEAM RETURN HOME
Hundreds of fans gathered in cities across Argentina last Sunday to celebrate their team’s victorious return from the 2021 Copa América, where they beat Brazil on home turf.
The Argentine Football Association (AFA) did not plan any official celebration given the coronavirus epidemic, which had caused the country to pull out of co-hosting the tournament, which then went to even worse-hit Brazil.
Lionel Messi and his team arrived home in Buenos Aires on Sunday morning via a private flight from Rio de Janeiro. In two buses emblazoned with the words “Champions of América 2021” and the number 15 – for Argentina’s number of Copa América wins – the team was escorted from the airport by police as hundreds of supporters gathered along the highway, waving and cheering.
After a quick show at the AFA headquarters in Buenos Aires, the victorious players went their different ways, without fanfare.
After the match Saturday night, crowds thronged the Obelisk monument in the capital – the traditional gathering place for celebrations and commemorations, whether sporting, cultural or political. The last time crowds had gathered in such large numbers was back in November 2020, when Diego Maradona died.
Cars took to the Avenida 9 de Julio in the early hours, hooting festively, as hundreds of ecstatic fans gathered in the city centre, waving flags, hugging and singing as police kept a close watch. There were similar celebrations in other major cities, including Rosario.