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FIFA RUSSIA 2018

Posted at: Jul 12, 2018, 2:04 AM; last updated: Jul 12, 2018, 2:04 AM (IST)

Euphoric France dreams of glory after 20-year wait

ST PETERSBURG/PARIS, July 11

France began dreaming of World Cup glory after a two-decade wait after Les Bleus defeated Belgium to reach the final, unleashing a wave of soccer euphoria across the country. Delirious supporters draped in the Tricolor flag spilled on to Parisian boulevards as the blare of car horns reverberated through the French capital. In a fan zone outside City Hall on the banks of the River Seine, jubilant supporters embraced and lit smoke flares. 

“I’m totally blown away, this is crazy,” said 41-year-old Gilles Rove. “Nobody believed this could happen at the beginning of the World Cup, but this team has really shown something in recent weeks. “This team gives me goosebumps, even more so than the team of 1998.”

“We’re going to the final, we’re going to the final,” scores chanted in one central Paris bar before breaking out into an impromptu rendition of the La Marseillaise national anthem. The partying was marred by clashes between riot police and mobs on the iconic Champs Elysees avenue. Live TV images showed bare-chested men hurling plastic crowd-control barriers and other missiles at the armed officers, who charged back.

In the southern city of Nice, more than two dozen fans were hurt when the detonation of firecrackers triggered a brief stampede near the seafront. — Reuters


Brussels metro plays French soccer anthem

BRUSSELS: Brussels commuters, heading to work the morning after Belgium’s painful loss to France, had to endure the French soccer anthem piped through the city’s metro on Wednesday. The reason: not only did the national team lose 1-0 but also the Brussels public transport authority lost a bet with its Parisian counterpart. Before the match, the two groups challenged each other on social media. If Belgium won, Paris would change signs at its Saint-Lazare station to “Saint Hazard” in honour of Belgian whirlwind midfielder Eden Hazard. But after the “Golden Generation’s” defeat, Brussels instead had to “treat” travellers to the anthem “Tous Ensemble” — All together — by late French rocker Johnny Hallyday at 8 and 10 am. At least Hallyday’s father was a Belgian. The country honoured the singer’s heritage when he died last year, playing his greatest hits on trains and over loudspeakers in central Brussels. 

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