An estimated five million people gathered in Buenos Aires Tuesday to welcome their heroes who won the World Cup for them after a 36-year gap.

But most were left disappointed when an open-top bus parade had to be abandoned due to the massive crowds, in favour of a hastily organised helicopter tour.

There were crazy scenes they packed the streets of the South American nation’s capital city on a national holiday to follow the soccer team on the victory parade. Messi and others rode on an open-air bus that pushed its way through crowds of excited fans.

Parade ends abruptly

Vast crowds of ecstatic fans cheered on their heroes along every meter of the planned 30-kilometer parade route from a Buenos Aires suburb to the center of the capital – but that made for interminably slow progress.

The bus had crawled along for almost five hours as the throng celebrated the team’s thrilling penalty shoot-out victory over France in the World Cup final, before the decision was made to trade the bus for a chopper.

“It was impossible to continue on the ground due to the explosion of popular joy,” presidential spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti said on Twitter.

It meant that many fans, including the largest congregation at the iconic Obelisk monument in central Buenos Aires that has for decades been the epicenter of sporting celebrations, did not get to see their idols in the flesh.

Cerruti in another tweet said, “Argentina today experienced one of the most extraordinary popular festivals in its history. Only joy and gratitude in hours and hours of exciting communion.”

Claudio Tapia, president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA), blamed police for the decision to abandon the victory parade.

“They are not allowing us to go and greet all the people at the Obelisk,” said Tapia on Twitter.

He added, “The same security agencies that escorted us are not allowing us to continue. Thousands of apologies in the name of all the champion players. It’s a shame.”

However, Tapia in another tweet thanked Buenos Aires provincial security minister Sergio Berni, saying he was the only one who accompanied the entire journey to the entrance to the capital without registering any incidents, allowing the players to embrace the Argentine people.

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