Clashes, riots mar France′s World Cup party | News | DW | 16.07.2018
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Clashes, riots mar France's World Cup party

More than 90,000 people jammed the Champs-Elysees in Paris to celebrate France's second World Cup win in 20 years. Some revelers got out of hand, broke shop windows and looted a store.

The Eiffel Tower was awash in the national colors and as night fell, it flashed two dates: 1998 and 2018 — the two years France won the World Cup. 

On Paris' Champs-Elysees, the home crowd was jubilant. Tens of thousands of fans jammed into the broad avenue to celebrate France's 4-2 win over Croatia in Moscow.

"It represents enormous things," said Goffrey Hamsik, dressed in a hat resembling a Gallic rooster — an unofficial national symbol — and a shirt with the number 10 for Kylian Mbappe, the 19-year-old breakout star who hails from the Paris suburb of Bondy.

"We've had lots of problems in France these past years," he said, recalling deadly terror attacks. "This is good for the morale ...Here, we are all united. We mix. There is no religion, there is nothing, and that's what feels good."

As is often the case with such heightened exuberance, troublemakers marred some of the festivities at the top of the Champs-Elysees. Rioters broke the window of a major store, threw bottles, temporary barriers and even a bicycle at police as the celebrations wound down close to midnight.

Crowds amid tear gas at the World Cup victory celebrations in Paris 2018 (Reuters/G. Fuentes)

Victory celebrations in Paris were marred slightly by some revelers

About 4,000 police who had been discreetly positioned on side streets responded with a water cannon and tear gas.

Earlier on Sunday, people wrapped in flags and dressed in crazy hats marched down the avenue, One man was even spotted totally naked except for the French tricolor flag.

Revelers set off smoke bombs in the national colors — blue, white and red — obscuring Napoleon's triumphal arch.

People climbed atop every newspaper kiosk and bus stop in the area to wave flags and lead the crowds below in cheers. The French national anthem, the Marseillaise, rang out, cars honked horns and fans perched on motorcycles cheering for their team.

Parisians celebrate their World Cup Victory at the Arc de Triomphe (Reuters/G. Fuentes)

Most of the celebrations in France were peaceful

The celebrations were spread across the nation and the sense of patriotism and unity was almost visceral.

Antoine Griezmann, the France striker who scored one of Sunday's goals, told a news conference two days before the final, televised on BFM TV, that pride in his country is in short supply.

"We say it so little ... We should be proud to be French," Griezmann said.

We won. Now what?

Mahmoud Bourassi, who runs a youth center in Bondy, was among those taking a longer-term view and he had some sobering thoughts about France's run to the title and the festivities it has sparked.

"All this euphoria and effervescence, it's positive, but it's emotional and ephemeral," he said ahead of France's win. Bourassi said sports is a "catalyst to bring people and nations together. But, he added, it must be built on.

"What we're seeing is magic, exceptional. But what are we going to do with it tomorrow?"

That is a question for President Emmanuel Macron. In Paris suburbs like Bondy, youth unemployment is up and there is disenchantment with the French dream.

People celebrating at the Eiffel Tower (Reuters/J. P. Pleissier)

Most the celebrations in France were peaceful

But for the next few days, France will celebrate its victory on the world stage. It is a magic moment.

Macron, who was in Moscow celebrating with the team's victory and tweeted "thank you" after the game, will receive the squad more formally on Monday at the Elysee Palace.

av/sms (dpa, AP)

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