Guillaume Dominguez with AFP
07:02, December 20, 2022
Unlucky heroes of the final Worldthe players of the France team were cheered by 50,000 supporters on Monday evening at Place de la Concorde in Paris on their return from Qatar, in an atmosphere of fervor, as Argentina prepared to celebrate the new world champions .
Having arrived an hour and a half earlier at Paris airport, the players appeared around 8:30 p.m. balcony of the Crillon hotel under the cheers of the fans, mostly very young, who waved tricolor flags and chanted “Thank you Blues!” and singing the Marseillaise or the Gala song “Freed from desire”, which became the anthem of the Blues during the World Cup. The event took place in a friendly atmosphere. The police, who gave the number of 50,000 participants, had not reported an incident Monday evening.
“We hope to cheer them up a bit”
Some had perched on lampposts or traffic lights, to try to see the Blues if only by a hair. The children, the luckiest, had found a perfect place on the shoulders of their parents. Others had chosen the Hotel de la Marine, across the street. “We can’t wait, we can’t wait, we hope they’ll arrive soon”, “we hope to cheer them up a bit, show them that we’re all together and that we’re still proud of them”, launch Mathilde and Sandra, impatient to see the Blues.
Lloris underlines his “pleasure to see so many people”
At 9 p.m., the two buses of the France team arrive after more than three hours of waiting. Didier Deschamps, Hugo Lloris finally show up on the balcony, followed by the rest of the team. The Blues stayed for a long time in front of their supporters who shouted their names, that of Kylian Mbappe being unsurprisingly the most heard, but those hoping for a voice were disappointed. Before entering the palace, some of them had however reacted for television. “To be able to commune even if there is not the final victory. To vibrate together is something unique”, said Rabiot at the microphone of TF1, before entering the palace.
Captain Hugo Lloris underlined his “pleasure to see so many people”. “I think the most important thing is the recognition even if, as an athlete, we would have liked to bring back a gold medal, especially to bring back this cup once again in France”, said the goalkeeper, face closed, visibly marked by defeat.
Fans to the angels
The fans were thrilled to have seen their idols. “For me, the important thing is that they have been to the end of their dreams, to the end of our dream. In 98, I was there. In 2018, I was there and in 2022 , I am here and for the others, I will always be there”, exclaims Nicolas, who came especially from Normandy who says he is proud of the Blues. “They are always in my heart, it’s not necessarily having a star but you always have a star in your heart.”
Smoke bombs and a few fireworks were fired in the middle of the crowd, but the atmosphere remained good-natured. As they got off the plane, the coach of the Blues Didier Deschamps had sketched a smile, just like Olivier Giroud, who wore a necklace of blue, white and red flowers around his neck. But Kylian Mbappé, his face closed, had rushed into one of the buses parked on the tarmac before reaching the famous Parisian square.
24 million viewers watched the final on TF1
The Blues do not keep the trophy won in 2018 but can be proud of their career. Aware of the enthusiasm aroused by their journey, they had decided, despite the cruel outcome, to commune with their fans, even if the president of the French Football Federation Noël Le Graet had first said the opposite on Monday morning.
The final, called to remain in the legend of football, was played on penalties (4-2) at the end of a crazy scenario: a double from Lionel Messi, best player of the tournament, a hat-trick from Mbappé , top scorer in the competition, and unbreathable extra time (3-3). More than 24 million viewers followed the event on TF1, a “historic audience record” for French television.