Paris and other cities throughout France erupted in celebration after the national team captured its second soccer World Cup title.
The squad, known as Les Bleus, defeated Croatia 4-2 in Moscow on July 15, ending the Croatian team’s hopes of winning its first-ever title.
Frence President Emmanuel Macron celebrated with the team in Moscow, tweeting a one-word message — "MERCI" — after the match, which was played on a humid night, with thunderclaps heard during play and rain pouring down as the championship trophy was presented.
Macron watched the match in the VIP area with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.
Macron will formally receive the squad on July 16 at the Elysee Palace in Paris. An official parade is also scheduled.
Immediately following the victory, tens of thousands of people marched down the Champs-Elysees in the capital in celebration — one day after the country held a military parade on the same avenue to mark Bastille Day, the July 14 national holiday.
Fans set off smoke bombs in the national colors — blue, white, and red — in front of Paris’s famous Arc de Triomphe.
People climbed atop buildings and bus stops to wave flags and cheer while the national anthem, the Marseillaise, rang out. Cars honked horns, and firecrackers blasted.
Officials said the crowds likely matched the numbers seen in 1998, when more than 1 million people partied on the avenue into the early hours.
The Eiffel Tower flashed "1998-2018" to mark France’s two World Cup titles.
Hundreds of police in riot gear were stationed on the streets of Paris to monitor the crowd, with Reuters reporting that security personnel used tear gas to disperse an unruly group of people at one point.
France has been under a state of emergency after the country was hit by a series of deadly terror attacks.
In July 2016, a man drove a truck through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the southern city of Nice, killing 86 people.
U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated France on winning the title, saying in a tweet that the team "played extraordinary soccer."
Trump also congratulated Putin and Russia "for putting on a truly great World Cup Tournament — one of the best ever!"
The next World Cup is scheduled for the Gulf nation of Qatar in 2022. The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, attended the final match and participated in a handover ceremony at the Kremlin with Putin and Gianni Infantino, the president of world soccer’s governing body FIFA, earlier in the day.
With reporting by AFP and AP
Source: Radio Free Europe