With Flags, Song and Pride, France Celebrates a Unifying World Cup Victory

Watch World Cup runners-up Croatia given a hero’s welcome by thousands of fans
A crowd estimated at more than 100,000 thronged to greet the Croatian team. | Reuters

18 July, 2018

Hundreds of thousands of ecstatic French fans celebrated the return of their FIFA World Cup winning football team, jumping and chanting "We Are The Champions" as their bus paraded down the Champs Elysees before a special presidential reception.

"Eternal Happiness" said Monday's headline in sports daily L'Equipe, summing up the mood of many who can't imagine the euphoria will ever fade.

The victory has helped foster a sense of national unity, with commentators playing up the fact the squad, the second-youngest in the competition, includes many with central and north African heritage, even if all but two were born in France.

In the eastern Paris neighborhood of Belleville, with the Eiffel Tower visible in the far distance, Vincent Simon said: "Both teams deserved to win".

The Paris metro station Bercy was renamed "Bercy les Bleus" as a tribute to the French football team.

The Venezuelan leader, who has presided over a collapse of the country's economy and who has been widely condemned for the repression of opponents, called on France and Europe as a whole to use this victory as a springboard to end the mistreatment of Africans and Latin Americans.

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Riot police was sent to the biggest Nike store in Paris as authorities feared fans would violently demand new French national team jerseys with two stars, symbolizing their two world titles.

Fellow Parisian Florian Scaven only caught glimpses of the final from the maternity ward with his wife as she had a baby during the final.

Macron was in attendance at Luzhniki in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Croatian counterpart Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic to watch France record a 4-2 victory over a spirited Croatia and clinch their second World Cup in the space of 20 years.

Said Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann: "For me, the collective is the most important thing". "We've had lots of problems in France these past years", he said, recalling deadly terror attacks. "We mix. There is no religion, there is nothing, and that's what feels good". And hours.Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty ImagesMAGIC HOURThe sun sets, but the night is young on the Champs Elysees where an estimated 1 million filled the streets to revel in France's victory.

France scored first when Mario Mandzukic headed into his own net following a Griezmann free-kick in the 18th minute - the first own goal in World Cup final history.

And the cheeky Les Bleus player couldn't resist backing the celebration up by firing off a sledge towards England fans.

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