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Lionel Messi, Argentina Players Left World Cup Parade by Helicopter Due to Crowd Size

Erin WalshDecember 20, 2022

Argentine players Rodrigo De Paul (L), Lionel Messi (C) and Cristian Romero (R) celebrate on board a bus with a sign reading "World Champions" with supporters after winning the Qatar 2022 World Cup tournament as they tour through Buenos Aires' downtown on December 20, 2022. - Millions of ecstatic fans are expected to cheer on their heroes as Argentina's World Cup winners led by captain Lionel Messi began their open-top bus parade of the capital Buenos Aires on Tuesday following their sensational victory over France. (Photo by TOMAS CUESTA / AFP) (Photo by TOMAS CUESTA/AFP via Getty Images)
TOMAS CUESTA/AFP via Getty Images

There were so many people in Buenos Aires to celebrate Lionel Messi and the Argentina national team winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup that players had to leave the bus parade celebration via helicopter.

With a crowd estimated to be as large as 5 million, authorities canceled the parade early over security concerns, according to James Grainger of the Buenos Aires Times.

B/R Football @brfootball

Argentina players had to leave their bus parade and fly over Buenos Aires by helicopter because of the massive crowds 🚁 <a href="https://t.co/pvik1QtaX7">pic.twitter.com/pvik1QtaX7</a>

Grainger added that the number of people attending the parade "made it impossible at times for the open-top bus carrying the players and coaching staff to even advance on the capital."

B/R Football @brfootball

The crowds waiting for Argentina's trophy parade 😳 <a href="https://t.co/9zK4iIobnd">pic.twitter.com/9zK4iIobnd</a>

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Views from the victory parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina 🀯 <a href="https://twitter.com/brfootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@brfootball</a> <a href="https://t.co/mlcWlVmUkr">pic.twitter.com/mlcWlVmUkr</a>

Men in Blazers @MenInBlazers

Updated estimates saying FIVE MILLION people are at Argentina's World Cup victory celebrations in Buenos Aires. <br><br>These shots are almost Cecil B De Mille-ian in epic scale. πŸŽ₯β€οΈπŸ‡¦πŸ‡·<br><br> <a href="https://t.co/5R2xY8MnKT">pic.twitter.com/5R2xY8MnKT</a>

Portions of the parade route were completely blocked off with fans, which forced changes to be made to the route. Additionally, some fans attempted to jump onto the team's bus, and at least 18 people are reported to have injuries, according to Grainger.

The team bus was forced to drive to a nearby school before players boarded helicopters to return to their training facility just outside the Argentine capital.

Claudio Tapia, president of the Argentine Football Association, released a statement on Twitter (h/t Grainger): "We were not allowed to arrive to greet all the people who were at the Obelisk, the same security forces that were escorting us did not allow us to move forward. A thousand apologies on behalf of all the champion players," Tapia wrote.

Presidential spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti added: "The World Champions are flying over the parade route in helicopters because it was impossible to continue on the ground."

Argentina won the 2022 World Cup on penalty kicks over France on Sunday. It marks the country's first World Cup victory since 1986 and its third overall after winning in 1978.

It was a particularly special victory for Messi, arguably the greatest player in the world, as winning the World Cup was one of the only things left for him to accomplish. While the 2022 tournament was expected to be his last, Messi said that he is not retiring from the national team, which opens the door for his return to the biggest stage in 2026, when the United States will be a co-host.