Fans gathered in a square in central Paris on Monday to cheer on the French soccer team despite their loss in the World Cup final against Argentina.
Fans cheered at the Place de la Concorde complex in central Paris. They were transported directly from the airport to the field after they got off Qatar.
Agence France-Presse journalists said they arrived at a lively reception on the balcony of the Grillon Hotel overlooking the square.
Despite their disappointment, the 24 French players, including striker Kylian Mbappe whose hat-trick could not make France proud, appeared on the balcony in regal fashion to receive applause.
“Obviously it’s fantastic, it warms the heart, it’s great to see that we’ve managed to make so many French people proud and happy,” striker Marcus Durham said on TF1.
He added, “We wanted to see them (the fans) when we return from Doha because I think it is very little to come and see them and thank them for their support.”
A large, jubilant crowd arrived at the Place de la Concorde in the city center #Paris To receive the French national football team after winning second place #world Cup. I can’t imagine what the victory celebration would be like. #F24 pic.twitter.com/LFd6WUqste
—Douglas Herbert (@dougf24) December 19, 2022
“This is an opportunity to congratulate them (the fans), thank them for their support and get their sympathy after yesterday’s hardship,” goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris told TF1.
Fans speculated throughout the day whether the disappointed players would travel to central Paris to meet them.
Sports Minister Amélie Odea-Castera announced early Monday morning that the team intends to move to the Place de la Concorde.
“The Wonderful Gift”
But a few hours later, the president of the French Football Federation (FFF) contradicted the minister, saying that the players would go straight home from the airport.
“When you don’t win, you don’t want to wander down the Champs-Elysées or anywhere else,” Noel Le Grand told BFMTV, referring to the glamorous avenue that runs from Concorde to Paris’ Arc de Triomphe.
However, the French Football Federation later confirmed that the event would take place.
France lost on penalties on Sunday after the match ended 3-3 after extra time, but French commentators still praised the defeated team, noting the key role of Argentina captain Lionel Messi.
“The Blues champion is invited to crown Lionel Messi,” sports newspaper L’Equipe declared.
Argentina dominated the first 80 minutes of the match before Mbappe’s double ignited France. Mbappe scored the third goal, becoming the second player in history to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.
“Proud of our Luzna,” reads the front page of Le Parisien newspaper alongside a photo of the united team during the penalty shootout.
“Football is often more than a game. Before Christmas, the World Cup was a great gift,” right-wing newspaper Le Figaro said in its editorial.
The channel said a total of 24.08 million people watched Sunday’s match on TF1, a record audience for a French channel.
The Interior Ministry said 227 people were arrested in France and 47 in Paris after the Games.