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WORLD CUP

In Pictures: France’s World Cup winners given heroes’ welcome in Paris

France's triumphant World Cup winning team landed back in Paris on Monday afternoon to be given a hero's welcome by hundreds of thousands of jubilant fans along the Champs-Elysées Avenue.

In Pictures: France's World Cup winners given heroes' welcome in Paris
Photo: AFP

Les Bleus landed in Paris at Charles-de-Gaulle airport around 4.40pm to be greeted by cheering airport workers and a small gathering including the country's sports minister.

France's World Cup winners arrived back home on Monday at the main airport near Paris and were given a guard of honour from the fire brigade which sprayed water over their plane.

Captain Hugo Lloris, flanked by coach Didier Deschamps, was the first to emerge from the Air France aircraft, raising the famed golden trophy before 
heading down the stairs and on to a freshly laid red carpet.

The players disembarked the plane along with the precious World Cup trophy, which they won for the second time in Moscow on Sunday evening after a 4-2 win over Croatia.

Hundreds of fans waited at the airport to greet their heroes but there were tens of thousands more thronging the Champs-Elysées Avenue in western Paris to await the team's victory parade in an open top bus.

Fans began to file onto the famous avenue from around 2pm to get the best spot to view the players, whose performance on Sunday had sparked wild celebrations across the country.

 

On their way to the Champs-Elysées, the French national team's bus was flanked by hundreds of moped drivers, honking their horns incessantly and holding their France flags as they flapped in the wind.

Once they reached central Paris, all 23 players, Didier Deschamps and his coaching staff swapped over to an open-top double-decker bus. 

Their arrival was met by an unexpected air show in which several fighters jets flew into the Paris sky, each leaving behind them a trail of blue, white and red to mark a timeless occasion. 

Here are the champions with the trophy on their way to celebrate with the hundreds of thousands of fans waiting anxiously along the Champs-Elysées Avenue. 

 

La coupe est là, le costar est mis. Direction les Champs Elysées! ?

A post shared by Antoine Griezmann ? (@__team__grizi__) on Jul 16, 2018 at 9:23am PDT

 

“It's a shame the bus doesn't go through the crowd as it did in 1998,” this Twitter user commented about the large security perimeter between the crowd and the champions' bus. 

As the bus approached the Champs-Elysées, almost all 23 players scrambled onto the upper deck, filming the crowds with their mobile phones.

Even though not on playing duties, they all seemed to be wearing the same party kit; white T-shirts and  “Champions du Monde” scarves wrapped around their heads to add the festive touch.  

Les Bleus then quickly changed into their suits and headed to the Elysée Palace to be received by a proud President Emmanuel Macron.

Paul Pogba, who no doubt purposely chose to wear gold-tinted sunglasses to match the World Cup trophy, had a comical moment with France's First Lady Brigitte Macron.

 

In fact the midfield maestro stole the show with his colourful antics at the Elysée Palace. After getting Macron to dab on Sunday night, Pogba took the lead in staging this group funny pose for the camera which was way out of protocol.

After meeting the players and the families in private for a short time, Macron invited the squad out into the garden of the Elysées Palace for a reception, where spirits were high after such a momentous occasion.

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FOOTBALL

France plans to keep growing women’s game after World Cup disappointment

France faces the challenge of continuing to develop women's football after the bitter disappointment of elimination from the World Cup by the United States.

France plans to keep growing women's game after World Cup disappointment
France players after the defeat against USA. Photo: AFP

“Back to Earth” was how sports daily L'Equipe put it after the host nation lost 2-1 to the holders in a quarter-final played out before a feverish crowd in Paris.

L'Equipe talked of “the disappointment of a shattered adventure” because coach Corinne Diacre's team had dreamt of emulating the men, World Cup winners in Russia last year and also winners as hosts in 1998.

The team had been desperate to make it to Lyon, where the semi-finals and final will be played and where seven of those who featured for France on Friday play their club football for Europe's top side.

Instead, France find themselves out of a fifth straight major tournament in the quarter-finals. To rub salt into the wounds, Friday's defeat had the knock-on effect of denying them a place at next year's Olympics.

Diacre had been set the objective of reaching the final, which always looked a daunting challenge once the draw raised the likelihood of an early meeting with the USA.

Amid the dejection on Friday, Diacre stated her wish to continue, and on Saturday French Football Federation (FFF) President Noel Le Graet confirmed she would stay.

“She will be in charge until the end of her contract, if not longer,” Le Graet told AFP.

That means until Euro 2021 in England at least, and the aim in France is to keep developing the women's game to give them a chance of one day going all the way.

The FFF hope the number of registered female players will reach 200,000 next year, an increase of almost 10 percent from present figures, but far from the two million registered male players.

They have also promised to invest 15 million euros into a post-World Cup “legacy” fund.

The interest in the women's game is there, as shown by television audiences during the World Cup, with 11.8 million watching the USA game on terrestrial TV.

However, translating that to an increased following in the women's domestic league will be a bigger challenge.

France games have drawn sell-out crowds at the World Cup, but in general attendances in domestic competition are modest at best, even if almost 26,000 saw powerhouses Lyon beat closest rivals Paris Saint-Germain earlier this year.

“We cannot go from so much enthusiasm now to league matches on poor pitches with only 120 fans,” said Le Graet. “We all need to make an effort and we will.”

Matches are televised, but like elsewhere income remains light years from rights deals in the men's game — a new sponsorship contract for the 12-club top flight with chemicals company Arkema is worth one million euros per season for three years.

Average salaries are reportedly around 3,500 euros per month, although stars like Amandine Henry and Wendie Renard are believed to earn almost 10 times that at Lyon, who have won the Champions League in the last four years. Again, those sums are dwarfed by the wages often on offer to the men.

“We need to keep putting money in, keep professionalising, because other countries are doing it and maybe that's why they are ahead of us,” warned Lyon and France forward Eugenie Le Sommer.

“We have a good league but unfortunately not every team is professional.

“There are countries who are ahead of us and we must catch up. Even Spain are putting lots of money in and we need to make sure we are not left behind.”

READ ALSO: France coach laments 'failure' as hosts knocked out of World Cup

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