PARIS (AP) – Thousands of fans in central Paris cheered the arrival home of a France team that lost one of the greatest World Cup finals.
Kylian Mbappé and teammates landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport from Doha just after 8pm local time on Monday and descended from the plane in a sombre mood.
Smiling airport staff members holding signs that said “Thank you” and “Paris loves you” were passed without acknowledgement by the team.
Looking tired and still visibly disappointed by their loss to Argentina in a penalty shootout in Qatar, the players boarded buses that took them to greet the hordes of excited fans waiting for them at Place de la Concorde. There, the team’s mood brightened.
In contrast with 2018 when France won the World Cup in Russia, the team did not receive a parade on the Champs-Elysees.
But to supporters, the location of the reception hardly mattered as they treated Les Bleus to a warm welcome home in the winter evening cold.
They lit flares, waved flags and sang La Marseillaise as the players and coach Didier Deschamps emerged on the balcony of the Hotel de Crillon.
More than 24 million people – eight out of 10 viewers – watched the final on French TF1 television, a record high.