The fans of the Argentina football team and its team captain Lionel Messi painted the streets blue in Kerala during the late hours of Sunday celebrating their favourite team's win against France in the finals of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The old and young, children and women, soccer fans were out screaming out of joy, bursting firecrackers, shouting the name of Lionel Messi, blowing trumpets and horns, celebrating Argentina's win over France in the final by dancing on the streets.
The streets of Kerala resembled that of Argentina when the Latin American nation lifted the football World Cup. Fans indulged in violence during the celebrations in some parts resulting in the arrest of six persons.
The East Fort area and Vanchiyoor in Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital, were literally crowded at midnight with fans wearing Argentina jerseys celebrating the victory.
Various parts of Kochi city also witnessed huge celebrations with firecrackers, and trumpets blowing when Messi lifted the World Cup for Argentina.
Television channels showed the celebrations on the streets of several towns, cities and villages of the southern state as the South American team defeated France in the penalty shootout after 120 minutes of play resulted in a 3-3 stalemate.
"Vamos," fans, donning the Argentina jersey, were seen shouting as they jumped up and down and danced around with each other unable to contain their joy. Some were too excited to even answer reporters' queries on how they were feeling and just responded with screams and incoherent shouts.
Apparently, the Argentina official team had taken notice of the celebrations and said, “Thank You.” Retweeting a celebration video, the official account of the Argentina team wrote, “#Qatar2022. Thank you Bangladesh. Thank you Kerala, India, Pakistan. Your support was wonderful!”
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan, Minister M.B. Rajesh, various other state ministers, MLAs, movie stars including Mammootty and Mohanlal shared their excitement over Argentina's triumph.
In a Facebook post, Vijayan congratulated Argentina for the World Cup victory. "Congratulations to Argentina who won the football World Cup. Lionel Messi led Argentina to victory -- the most precious achievement of his career," he said. He said unique expressions of the beautiful game of football were witnessed throughout the tournament.
Mammootty and Mohanlal, the two big stars of the Malayalam movie industry were at the Lusail stadium in Qatar to witness the title clash between Argentina and France. "What a Night!!! What a Game!! Absolute Goosebumps!! Thrilled to have witnessed probably one of the greatest ever football match. Congrats Argentina and Magical Messi on conquering the world. Well Played #France and Kylian Mbappe," Mammootty posted on Facebook.
Mohanlal, who also posted a picture of himself at the stadium, said it was a glorious final in which two worthy opponents played their hearts out and gave millions of football fans a "nerve-wracking match".
"Congratulations Argentina on a hard won victory. 36 years of toil and the cup is once again yours. Leo Messi has kept his date with destiny and will bow out in glory. A glorious last dance...Kudos to Kylian Mbappe and the French team for being such worthy opponents and for the great fight they put up till the end. Well done Qatar," Mohanlal said.
Former state minister and senior Left leader M.M. Mani, MLA, who is a die-hard Argentina fan, watched the match on a big screen at his constituency in Idukki district.
"There will be people who attack us...there will be people who criticise us...None of that concerns us. What a final... Both are great teams. Thanks to the critics, you are our energy...It was a great match. France was a good opponent. Mbappe is good," Mani said.
However, in many places, the celebrations led to minor violence injuring many including a few policemen.
Kerala, known for its love for football, caught global attention last month when a group of Argentinian soccer fans in Pullavoor village of Kozhikode erected a 30-ft cutout of Messi over a small islet weeks ahead of the World Cup.
Subsequenty, Brazil fans erected a 40-ft cutout of Neymar Jr along the banks of the river, spicing up the contest between supporters of the two stars. However, both stars were overshadowed by yet another over 45-ft Cristiano Ronaldo cutout wearing the Portugal jersey.
Incidentally, FIFA tweeted a picture of the cutouts, saying the world cup "fever has hit Kerala."
(With PTI inputs)