Argentina’s players were forced to evacuate their World Cup parade by helicopter as an open-top bus parade in Buenos Aires turned into chaos.
Federal police canceled the celebration for safety reasons after fans attempted to jump onto the roof of the bus. More than five million people had flooded the streets of the Argentine capital. Plans were made to tour the city center by bus, culminating in a performance at the Obelisk, a gigantic tower in the middle of Buenos Aires. Riot police were later seen on the street.
But those plans were scrapped after the police intervened. The bus instead drove to Parque Roca, a park in the city center near a tennis stadium, and players were escorted to waiting helicopters. Paulo Dybala and Nahuel Molina were among those pictured on the plane.
They were then expected to fly over the Obelisk and above the millions of fans still waiting to greet their heroes.
“They are not letting us greet all the people who were at the Obelisk, the same security services that accompanied us are not allowing us to go further,” Chiqui Tapia, president of the Argentine Football Association, wrote on Twitter. “A thousand apologies on behalf of all Champion players. Unfortunately.
“We thank the province of Buenos Aires, under the leadership of its security minister Sergio Berni, who was the only one who accompanied the entire journey to the entrance of the capital without registering any incidents, allowing the players to embrace the Argentine people.”
Questions remain about how the large number of disappointed fans will react to the apparent halt to the party, with millions stranded in the city centre. Earlier, a fan had told Telegraph Sport that he intended to try to get on the bus.
“I jump off the bridge when I see the team,” said the man in a Spiderman mask.
High temperatures had already taken their toll and many fans said they were dehydrated. The focal point had been the Obelisk, a giant tower in the middle of the city, and it was feared angry fans might turn violent after all.
The players arrived in Buenos Aires early Tuesday morning and were taken to an Argentine Football Association site near the airport. Although it was after midnight, the 10 minute ride would have lasted over an hour with fans already lining the streets.