Argentina’s historic third World Cup win will be marked across the nation today, with celebrations expected to reach fever pitch in Buenos Aires during a much-anticipated open-top bus victory parade.
The playing squad and coaching staff, along with their families, arrived at Ezeiza International Airport on the outskirts of the capital in the early hours of Tuesday morning, a little after 2am. Thousands of fans gathered to welcome the team and the World Cup trophy, which was held aloft by skipper Lionel Messi as he descended from the plane.
From Ezeiza they were transferred via bus to the nearby headquarters of the Argentine Football Association (AFA), located just a few miles from the international terminal. Supporters cheered and swarmed the vehicle as the players travelled to the training ground, smiling and displaying the World Cup trophy to their adoring fans.
There was a brief moment of concern when some of the team had to duck as low-hanging power-lines nearly hit them in the face, though a major disaster was luckily averted.
Some 400 members of the Airport Security Police (PSA) took part in the security operation protecting the world champions.
The Albiceleste's playing and coaching staff are due to depart from the AFA training ground at midday, before departing for a tour taking in parts of the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA) to celebrate with their loyal supporters.
News of the open-top bus parade was confirmed by AFA via its Twitter account on Monday.
“The squad of WORLD CHAMPIONS will leave on Tuesday at noon to the Obelisk to celebrate the World Cup title with the fans. Yes, we are WORLD CHAMPIONS!" read a post on the social network.
Details of the exact preparations and route for the convoy have been few and far between, sparking consternation among supporters and journalists alike. The national government only confirmed that Tuesday would be a national public holiday at 8.30pm the preceding evening, leaving families and citizens little time to prepare and adjust their schedules.
Some members of the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition strongly criticised the decision to decree a holiday, observing that those living in provinces outside the AMBA region had little chance of seeing the players and World Cup given the distances involved in travelling to the capital.
According to information from the Télam state news agency, the ‘Scaloneta’ first take the Richieri motorway before continuing onto General Paz, Avenida Lugones, Avenida 9 de Julio, the Obelisk, Autopista 25 de Mayo, Autopista Dellepiane and then Richieri again, before returning to the AFA training ground. Stops along Libertador and Figueroa Alcorta avenues have therefore been excluded from the route.
"There will be no stages, posts or stops," said Buenos Aires City Security Minister Marcelo D'Alessandro, in televised statements to the press. He asked fans to distribute themselves “throughout the route and not necessarily go to the Obelisk.”
D'Alessandro predicted the whole trip would last “seven to eight hours” and that, while the vehicle would not be travelling fast, it would not stop to greet fans.
"We are going to do the same as when the G20 took place: as they advance we are going to cut it off to prevent vehicles from moving ahead," D'Alessandro told TN, saying that police would guard the bus.
"We are working to protect the physical integrity of everyone. We are deploying thousands of police because the main idea is to make it safe for everyone. We are working to take care of physical integrity," he added.
Given the magnitude of the event, huge crowds are expected at the Obelisk, with officials warning porteños that they will have better vantage points at less popular spots along the route.
The security operation has been put together by authorities from the national government, federal security forces, the Buenos Aires City and the Buenos Aires Province police forces.