'We are the champions of the world!'
PARIS/MOSCOW – Millions of French soccer fans were delirious with joy on Sunday as France beat Croatia 4-2 to win soccer’s World Cup in a pulsating final in Moscow that sparked ecstatic scenes from Paris to Marseille and beyond.
In Paris, where 90 000 people gathered next to the Eiffel Tower to watch the match on vast TV screens, there were choruses of the Marseillaise, honking horns and hundreds of thousands of red, white and blue French flags fluttering in the breeze.
The boom of fireworks and firecrackers filled the air and car drivers honked their horns incessantly to celebrate France’s second world title after their triumph on home soil in 1998.
A deafening chorus of “We are the champions, We are the champions” rang out from the Sacre Coeur in the north of the city to the Sorbonne on the Left Bank.
Even before the final whistle, crowds streamed on to the Champs Elysees, the elegant, tree-lined boulevard that runs up to the Arc de Triomphe, the traditional gathering place for celebration, including the Bastille Day parade 24 hours earlier.
“It’s just astonishing what they’ve done,” said Josh, 41, who travelled from Brittany to Paris to watch the match.
“Pogba, Mbappe, Grizou (Griezmann) – they’re on top of the world,” he said, naming three of the standout players.
“We’re the champions of the world! It’s phenomenal, just phenomenal.”
Even football fans who were not rooting for France, but found themselves in the French capital for the game were overcome by the occasion and the amazing scenes of celebration.
“France was not my team, but I am so pleased for them today,” said Sarah, a 24-year-old from Birmingham in England, who is studying medicine in Paris.
“The players just showed something special all along, something that I liked, and I was not sure they would win today but they did. A lot of people are going to be drunk, if not already.”
French television channels showed scenes of celebration in Marseille and across the south of France while in Moscow, where tens of thousands of fans travelled to watch the game, together with President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, there were tears of joy among the sea of red, white and blue.
“It’s amazing,” said Brioche Pasquier, 57, a supporter inside the Luzhniki Stadium for the match.
“I am happy. I arrived to Moscow this morning, specially for the final.”
France coach Didier Deschamps was full of praise for his team despite signs of nerves at the start of the game and several missed opportunities during it.
“It is really beautiful. It is marvellous. We did not play a great match, but we showed a strong mental quality,” Deschamps said.