Argentina World Cup heroes greeted by millions of partying fans in Buenos Aires

Millions of Argentina fans took to the streets of Buenos Aires on Tuesday to welcome Lionel Messi and his fellow stars back from their World Cup triumph.

The players will sleep at AFA headquarters for a few hours before boarding the bus later Tuesday that will take them to the Obelisk, the iconic Buenos Aires landmark that was a sea of people Sunday afternoon after the team won the country’s third World Cup, and its first since 1986.

Messi was seen with his teammates on an open-top bus waving at jubilant fans on the sides of the highway heading to Buenos Aires from their training ground on the outskirts of the city.

President Alberto Fernández declared a national holiday Tuesday so the country could celebrate the victory.

The day after the streets of Argentina turned into massive parties following the Sunday victory, many kept a close eye on the flight that brought the players home to celebrate. As the plane got closer to Argentine soil, almost 200,000 people were tracking its path online and news channels gave live coverage of the arrival.

In the afternoon, people started arriving at the airport and outside the AFA headquarters in hopes of getting a glimpse of the team.

Many were also already at the Obelisk, seemingly ready to spend the night there to ensure a prime spot for Tuesday’s festivities.

Several players posted photos of the plane ride on social media.

Messi held the World Cup on the plane. Nicolás Tagliafico, meanwhile, posted a photo of the World Cup buckled into an airplane seat as if it were just another passenger.

As of early Tuesday morning, there were no official plans for Fernández, or any other political leaders, to take part in the celebrations despite earlier rumors that the players would go to Government House, which was offered up for the celebrations, according to Security Minister Aníbal Fernández.

The World Cup and the success of the Messi-led squad has brought much-needed good news for a country that has been stuck in economic doldrums for years, is suffering one of the world’s highest inflation rates, and where almost four-in-10 people live in poverty.

Fernández retweeted several messages of congratulations for the World Cup victory from other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Thank you for this greeting President Putin,” Fernández wrote on Twitter after a telephone call with the Russian leader. “Let the happiness that today unites Argentina with so many countries in the world serve as an example: Our societies need unity and peace.”

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