Elated French fans burst out of bars and into the streets of Montreal on Sunday, dancing and singing as they celebrated their soccer team’s victory over Croatia in the World Cup final.
Scores of soccer fanatics watched the game in bars, parks and living rooms across Canada, rapt as France beat Croatia 4-2.
In Montreal, home to nearly 57,000 French nationals, a two-storey-tall French flag covered the front of bar l’Barouf in the Plateau-Mont Royal neighbourhood, where fans waved flags, honked horns and cheered on their team with calls of “Allez Les Bleus” as police tried to keep the elated crowd from spilling onto the street.
The bar was so packed throughout the game that Montrealer Henri Gigandet had to settle for the occasional glimpse of the TV while following the cheers, jeers and groans of the crowd. Still, he said it was worth it.
“It’s the ambiance, the vivre de joie and everything,” he said.
Though he’s not a French citizen, he said the event meant something to him as a francophone, as he stood on a corner waving a red, white and blue flag meant to symbolize the unity of French speakers across Canada.
“It’s our roots,” he said.
Initially, the crowd was equally jubilant in Croatian Parish Park in Mississauga, Ont., with some setting off sparklers and red flares as their team scored its first goal a half hour into the game.
But after Fance’s third goal, the red-and-white clad fans were less talkative, watching the game in near-silence. By their opponent’s fourth goal, several people started to slowly trickle out of the park.
WATCH: France, Croatia fans celebrate first goals in World Cup final
When the game was over and reality began to set in, the quiet turned to tempered celebration.
“Thank you for second place, that’s a big, big place for us,” Joe Kozlovicjosip cheered.
And 19-year-old Dario Jezerinac said he and his friends planned to party all day and all night in the park.
“I’m not going to bed,” he said under the early-afternoon sun.
“(I’m) super proud of the boys, I couldn’t ask for anything better,” he added. “Everyone doubted us but we came to the finals and played out hearts out.”
— with files by Olivia Bowden in Mississauga.