Argentina’s World Cup victory parade through Buenos Aires and its surroundings came to an early halt on Tuesday as authorities ordered its cancellation amid security concerns.
Huge crowds took to the streets of the capital. Areas of downtown Buenos Aires were packed full with supporters partying, all wanting to celebrate the national team’s third World Cup win and catch a glimpse of their heroes.
Local news agencies estimated that the turnout was as high as five million people, with the capital’s most iconic locations – such as the Plaza de Mayo and the iconic Obelisk – flooded with people.
People of all ages had taken to the streets as fans created a carnival atmosphere in the capital, but the sheer number of people made it impossible at times for the open-top bus carrying the players and coaching staff to even advance on the capital.
Eventually, the players and coaches were forced to change their plans and turn off the motorway and drive to a nearby school, where they left the bus and took to helicopters in order to return to their training ground base on the outskirts of the capital.
They used the trip as an opportunity to do a quick lap around the city centre and see some of the crowds from the sky. Midfielder Enzo Fernández posted images and video footage of their trip live from the sky, with a huge grin on his face.
Argentina’s national team had embarked upon their planned 30-kilometre route – running from their training ground to the capital’s famous Obelisk in the centre of the city – just after 11.30am local time.
The trip had already faced difficulties prior to departure, however, with security officials ordering changes be made to the scheduled route. Unconfirmed reports in local outlets said that there had been disagreements between
Images of fans celebrating and descending on parts of the route were soon being shown of the parade across television channels. Parts of the motorway system leading into the capital were completely blocked as columns of supporters walked on foot to points along the route.
At 3.30pm local time, as the caravan of police and open-top bus continued to approach the capital at snail’s pace – and with video footage circulating of fans attempting to unsuccessfully jump onboard the vehicle from flyovers and bridges and falling dangerously to the road below – the parade was abruptly cancelled.
In an interview conducted at 5pm, the head of the local emergency services appeared on local television and said that 18 individuals with injuries had been reported so far.
Seconds before taking off in the helicopters, the president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA), Claudio ‘Chiqui’ Tapia, released a statement on Twitter explaining the situation.
"We were not allowed to arrive to greet all the people who were at the Obelisk, the same security forces that were escorting us did not allow us to move forward. A thousand apologies on behalf of all the champion players," he wrote.
Prior to departure, Tapia had said that the squad would travel along "the circuit provided by the security agencies of the Nation, City and Province of Buenos Aires."
Despite the huge security operation, however, the size of the sheer turnout of supporters and well-wishers forced the early abortion of the parade.
"The World Champions are flying over the parade route in helicopters because it was impossible to continue on the ground," Presidential Spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti said in a post on Twitter.
Local media said the World Cup winners were due to land at AFA’s training ground in Ezeiza after their helicopter tour of the capital.