A triumphant open-top bus parade by Argentina’s World Cup-winning football team was abandoned due to security concerns as an estimated 4 million fans lined the streets of Buenos Aires, forcing players to continue their tour in helicopters.
The head of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) confirmed that players were unable to reach the central Obelisco monument as planned due to the size of the crowd.
Pictures also showed a fan jumping into the bus from an overhead bridge, dropping into the overhead deck occupied by the Argentina players. A second fan tried to follow him but missed the bus, narrowly avoiding Lionel Messi, as he fell backwards and into the crowd below.
The players were then transferred into helicopters to greet the crowds from the air.
The open-top bus had been brought to a standstill as fans spilled out onto the streets to celebrate Argentina’s first World Cup victory since 1986.
The head of the AFA, Chiqui Tapia, tweeted: “They don’t let us get to greet all the people who were at the Obelisco.
“The security agents that escorted us won’t allow us to move forward. A thousand apologies on behalf of all the champion players.”
A further statement from the organisation said: “The players will end the festivities by flying in a helicopter over the crowd of fans who gathered in the city of Buenos Aires to celebrate the victory in Qatar.
“They made that decision after verifying that they could not continue advancing by bus in the middle of the crowd.”
President Alberto Fernandez declared a national holiday on Tuesday so the country could celebrate the victory.
In the afternoon, fans began arriving at Buenos Aires airport and outside the AFA headquarters in the hope of getting a glimpse of the team.
On the long flight from Qatar, Messi held the World Cup while Nicolas Tagliafico posted a photo of the trophy buckled into a seat.
The World Cup and the success of the 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.
Mr Fernandez 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,” Mr Fernandez 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.”