Heroes' welcome for France World Cup winners

Clay Curtis
July 17, 2018

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

The French team arrived to red carpet treatment earlier on Monday afternoon, with goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris holding the trophy aloft as the team descended to meet Sports Minister Laura Flessel.

"It represents enormous things", said Goffrey Hamsik, dressed in a hat resembling a rooster - the French national symbol - and a shirt with the No. 10 for Kylian Mpappe, the 19-year-old breakout star who hails from the Paris suburb of Bondy.

"We have to ride this wave of optimism", she said before the final.

The Paris metro system has temporarily renamed six of its stations in honour of key players. The Champs-Elysees Clemenceau has become the Deschamps-Elysees Clemenceau to honor coach Didier Deschamps.

French President Emmanuel Macron exulted on the field in Moscow and in the locker room, hugging players as they received their medals even as the skies poured rain.

World Cup, World Cup and more World Cup - that's all France is talking about.

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The guests were also treated to the beats of DJ Snake, who has worked with pop stars including Lady Gaga and is part of the Pardon My French collective of French DJs.

His performances saw comparisons drawn with Brazil legend and now fellow World Cup victor, Pele.

His goal against Croatia made him the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pele in 1958.

The victory came at a time when many French were in need of good news. France won its maiden World Cup title in 1998 when the country hosted the event and Sunday's win also brought back memories of the 1998 triumph for the fans.

"This victory will improve France's image for several years, and nearly automatically that of its leader", Pascal Boniface, director of the Institute for worldwide and Strategic Relations, a French think-tank, told AFP. Broken shop windows and signs of looting lined a section of the Champs-Elysees.

Last night, police in Paris fired tear gas and dispersed crowds from the Champs Elysees after clashes with a small group of unruly fans threatened to spoil the celebrations. Authorities detained 90 people for questioning in the Paris region and some 290 around France.

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