Cup victory has France's spirit soaring
Posted: Monday July 13, 1998 12:24 AM
Zinedine Zidane (center), the hero of the final match, clutches the World Cup (AP)|
SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) --
The cup itself is a piece of 18-carat gold that resembles an oversized ice
cream cone. In spirit, the cup is beyond measure.
And on Sunday,
following a 3-0 victory over mighty Brazil in the
World Cup final, the spirit of France was soaring.
had its first World Cup title and a jolt of glory so potent it propelled
millions into the streets from Paris to the tiniest of villages.
In a decidedly French flourish, 300 top models paraded in Yves Saint
Laurent gowns to Ravel's Bolero played on steel drums before the game.
Afterward, the jolt of Zinedine Zidane's two goals still
reverberating, a pageant of sound and lights with a dazzling burst of
fireworks filled the stadium sky.
The crowd that streamed to the
Champs-Elysees to celebrate was estimated at a million people. There was an
accident there early Monday when an apparently panicked driver plowed into
a group of celebrating fans, injuring about 60 people, according to rescue
Since Friday, a two-day tailgate party threaded
through Paris, with pockets of nonstop gaiety. French flags fluttered from
car windows and above bicycles. Crowds chanted, "We're in the finals," but
hardly anyone risked the traditional, "We're going to win."
Sunday, a crowd gathered early by a big screen and yelled itself hoarse.
Strangers smiled and high-fived. Repeatedly, they chanted, "If you're proud
to be French, clap your hands." Everyone clapped.
were everywhere. At least 30,000 who came from home were joined by
Brazilian residents in Europe and unofficial Brazilians at heart.
Five hours before the match, the open areas around Stade de France were
alive with noise and color.
Dabibo Daniel and his friend, Tilo
Batilo, both wearing yellow shirts, spread a Brazilian flag on the ground
and performed a voodoo rite. "Ronaldo, Ronaldo," they intoned.
The Arc de Triomphe served as a giant celebration screen as thousands of fans filled the Champs-Elysees (AP)||
Nearby, under a blur waving blue-white-red flags, young women wearing
abbreviated cancan outfits in crimson sequins toasted bare shoulders in the
sun. A group of painted French fans brandished a confused and angry
rooster, a symbol of France, who was clearly no soccer lover.
a potential for terrorism hung in the air, it spoiled nothing. Policemen
putted by on scooters. Riot troops strolled among fans, with only soft caps
and sidearms instead of their usual combat gear.
heavily outnumbered, the Brazilians won the pregame fans' World Cup.
Some Frenchmen came in full war paint and elaborate costumes, with
floppy tricolor hats. But most wore fashionable black or ordinary street
clothes, with only blue-red streaks on their cheeks. They yelled, a little
The Brazilians, however, ablaze in their
colors, shouted and undulated to tambourines or drums.
defectors left the French side when Karina Ramos of Rio de Janeiro sambaed
past wearing only skimpy shorts and dabs of yellow and green where her top
A carnival group from Recife in fanciful costumes
danced through the crowds under a colorful feathered canopy. Brazilians and
Frenchmen alike partied in the wake of music trailing behind.
France, badly in need of grandeur and troubled by racial strife, found
itself unified by a multiracial team.
The team had triumphed
just by reaching the final. And despite outrage over ticket distribution
and police street battles with hooligans, the tournament was a clear
Pele, the soccer great working as a commentator for
Brazil's Globo television network, declared France a worthy champion.
"Brazil did not perform as expected and the cup is in good hands.
... France deserves the title," he said.
On the field, and in
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