Photography: Julien de Rosa/AFP/Getty Images
Amid a cacophony of car horns, fireworks and people hanging from car windows waving flags, jubilant football fans rushed to Paris’ Champs-Élysées on Wednesday night to celebrate the victory of France over Morocco to reach the World Cup final, hoping it would now become the first country in 60 years to retain the title.
“We are in the final! shouted Romain, 16, who had high school the next day but was planning a late night party. “When France won the World Cup in 2018 I was 12 and couldn’t really party in the streets,” he said. “It’s great tonight, but facing Argentina will be tight, we’ll be biting our nails.”
People were dancing, cheering and climbing over lampposts and traffic lights, while police vans stood guard. More than 2,000 officers, including riot police in bulletproof vests, were posted around the Champs-Elysees and across Paris to control crowds and keep them on the sidewalks. More than 5,000 agents have been deployed in Île-de-France, and a total of 10,000 throughout the territory. In Lyon, local media reported that police fired tear gas after rocks and projectiles were thrown at them.
Even as the match drew to a close, workers equipped with power drills were still hastily mounting the tall windows of sports shops and other businesses on the Champs-Elysées as a precaution against vandalism, but the crowd remained calm and understanding. families and children. in Santa hats.
Related: “Concentrate on joy”: the Morocco-France match is symbolic for the Moroccan diaspora
A large number of Franco-Moroccan dual nationals had sat together in nearby bars to watch champions France take on success story underdog Morocco, and there were also Moroccan flags amidst the crowd in party on the Champs-Elysées. Some fans were wrapped in French and Moroccan flags tied together, while others hung from car windows waving the flags of both countries at once.
Rays, a carer for the elderly in the southern city of Montpellier, had come to Paris to celebrate his 21st birthday the night before. He watched the game wrapped in the Moroccan flag alongside friends who were France fans sporting tricolor face paint. “France played brilliantly,” he said. “I was born in France to Moroccan and Algerian parents. I really, really wanted Morocco to be the first African team to qualify for the World Cup final. It would have been historic, but it was not. Argentina will be hard to beat now, Messi wants one last trophy.”
“I’m really happy and proud, both teams played so well,” said Domitilla, 22, a French-Italian communicator wearing red, white and blue makeup who had watched the match at a local bar. She lives in an apartment near the Champs-Élysées. “I’m a little scared I won’t sleep tonight,” she said as cars streamed down the avenue, beeping furiously, and fireworks went off.
Alexis, 25, an engineer from France, said: “The last time they won the World Cup I was in a scout camp in the countryside, so it’s good to follow him around town now. France has succeeded brilliantly.
A group of six off-duty police officers wearing red, white and blue makeup were heading from a bar to the Champs-Élysées to celebrate, wrapped in French flags. “It was a magnificent match, beautiful to watch, Morocco were a very strong team,” said one of them. “Now we just hope the night goes well for our fellow officers here. We won’t stay late, we have work tomorrow morning.