French team to meet fans on World Cup return: Federation
Fans will on Monday get the chance to meet the national team on its return from Qatar where they lost to Argentina in a nail-biting World Cup final, the French Football Federation (FFF) said.
The FFF's statement came after supporters had been kept guessing for most of the day about whether the disappointed players would travel to central Paris to meet them.
Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera had said early Monday that the team planned to go to the Place de la Concorde in the French capital after their plane touches down at Charles de Gaulle Airport.
"They want to go to thank their supporters," she told France Inter radio.
But within hours, the FFF president contradicted the minister, saying the players would head home straight from the airport.
"When you don't win you don't feel like wandering down the Champs Elysees or anywhere else," Noel Le Graet told the BFMTV broadcaster, in reference to the glamorous avenue running from Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe.
"They have been away for more than a month and they did a good job. They want to go home as quickly as possible," he said.
But that statement was, in turn, thrown into doubt shortly afterwards when BFMTV, citing sources in the national team's communication team, said the squad would show up after all.
This was then confirmed by an FFF statement which said the event would take place after their plane lands at around 8:00 pm (1900 GMT).
France lost on penalties on Sunday after the match ended 3-3 following extra time, but French commentators still heaped praise on the defeated side, while highlighting the crucial role of Argentinian captain Lionel Messi.
"Invited to the coronation of Lionel Messi, Les Bleus were heroic," said L'Equipe sports newspaper.
The match was dominated by Argentina for the first 80 minutes before a quickfire double by Kylian Mbappe ignited France. Mbappe went on to score a third goal, becoming only the second player in history to grab a hat-trick in a World Cup final.
"Proud of our Bleus," read a headline on the front page of Le Parisien newspaper with a picture of the team standing together during the penalty shootout.
"Football is often more than a sport. In the run up to Christmas, this World Cup has been a magnificent present," the right-wing newspaper Le Figaro said in an editorial.
A total of 24.08 million people watched the match on Sunday on TF1 television, an all-time record audience for a French network, the channel said.
The interior ministry said that 227 people were arrested in France after the game, with 47 in Paris.