'Eternal happiness' as France celebrates World Cup victory

With the golden World Cup trophy in hand, France's victorious national team is returning home to a grand "Merci!" from a grateful nation that was sorely in need of a boost.

"Eternal Happiness" said Monday's headline in the sports daily L'Equipe, summing up the mood of many who hope this euphoria will last for months — even years.

That will be followed by a reception at the presidential palace, with hundreds of guests, including people from soccer clubs known to the French players, like that of the poor suburb of Bondy, where 19-year-old star Kylian Mbappe grew up.

Several Paris Metro stations are temporarily adjusting their names to honor the team and its members, the transport authority tweeted. The Champs-Elysees Clemenceau has become the Deschamps-Elysees Clemenceau to honour national team coach Didier Deschamps.


The Etoiles station is for now "On a 2 Etoiles" (We have 2 stars), to denote France's second World Cup victory, after one in 1998, while the Victor Hugo station is now Victor Hugo Lloris, after France's standout goalie and team captain.

Celebrations were spread across the nation, and among still-dazed French players themselves.

"We are linked for life now with this Cup," defender Raphael Varane told BFM-TV on Monday before departing for home from Moscow.

French President Emmanuel Macron exulted on the field in Moscow, hugging players as they received their medals even as the heavens opened up and poured down on everyone, and congratulating the players again in the locker room. He is clearly hoping the World Cup victory glow rubs off on him, raising him up in a nation that is fiercely protesting his economic reforms.

Golden generation

It's the players, though, who have captured the French imagination, a mostly youthful, diverse group that represents a generation which traditionalists have yet to come to terms with.

Sports Minister Laura Flessel told Europe-1 radio that the World Cup victory allows France's youth — like those in the poor suburbs where many of the players grew up — "to dare to believe in their dreams."

Joy over the victory brightened the Monday morning commute in Paris, with young people in cars still singing and shouting in celebration.

In the eastern Paris neighborhood of Belleville, with the Eiffel Tower visible in the far distance, Vincent Simon said, "Both teams deserved to win. France won, and that's good for the country. That will do us good for some months."

Fellow Parisian Florian Scaven only caught glimpses of the World Cup final from the maternity ward, where his wife had a baby during the matched.

"We vibrated with the horns in the street. We are happy. Long live France," he said.

United country

The victory came at a time when many French were in need of good news.

"It represents enormous things," said Goffrey Hamsik, dressed in a hat resembling a rooster — the French national symbol — and a shirt with Mbappe's No. 10 number.

"We've had lots of problems in France these past years," he said, recalling deadly terror attacks. "This is good for the morale … Here, we are all united. We mix. There is no religion, there is nothing, and that's what feels good."

Still, celebrations in France typically end up with a spate of violence by troublemakers, and Sunday was no exception.

Broken shop windows, pillage and other destruction lined a section of the Champs-Elysees, the post-game site for revelers. Riot police used water cannon and tear gas to end the violence.

French media reported that authorities detained 90 people for questioning in the Paris region and some 290 around France.

Croatia gets hero's welcome

In an outburst of national pride, Croatia on Monday threw out a red carpet and staged a heroes' welcome for the country's national team despite its loss to France in the World Cup final.

Tens of thousands of people wearing national red-and-white colours and waving Croatian flags poured into the streets in of the capital Zagreb to greet the players.

The joyful crowd crammed the city's central square or lined up along the route where the players were set to pass in an open bus.

Croatian air force jets escorted the plane carrying the team from Russia as it entered the country's air space and flew over the capital Zagreb.


"Champions! Champions!" roared the crowds as the players came out of the plane to a red carpet placed on the tarmac at the Zagreb airport.

The small country of 4 million people has been gripped in euphoria since its team beat England to reach its first World Cup final, where Croatia lost 4-2 to France.

The success has been the described as the biggest in Croatia's sporting history, boosting national pride and sense of unity in the country that fought a war to become independent from the former Yugoslavia in 1990s'.

Croatia's state railway company has halved ticket prices so fans could travel to Zagreb, while city authorities in the capital said public transportation would be free on Monday.

State TV urged citizens to come out and enjoy "the historic moment" of the players' return, while other media have described the players as "our heroes."

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Soccer News