On air
  • RFI English Live
  • RFI French Live

World Cup 2018 France Belgium

Issued on • Modified

Paris braces for Sunday clash, but with who remains to be seen

France fans react after defeating Belgium in their World Cup semi-final match. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Authorities in Paris have decided to put up a giant screen for the World Cup final on Sunday so fans can watch Les Bleus take on the winner of the Croatia versus England semi-final.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo confirmed the move after France's victory against Belgium on Tuesday night. The screen will be erected underneath the Eiffel Tower at the Champs de Mars.

"We'll see you for the finals in Paris, and it will be on the Champs de Mars and there will be many more of us," she said, speaking from the City Hall, where 20,000 people watched the semi-final on a giant screen.

A security perimetre was installed around the screen and fans were checked before entering the fan zone. Tight security measures are also expected to be in place at the Champs de Mars on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the French national anthem La Marseillaise, chants of "We're in the final" and a cacophony of car horns and fire crackers rang out over Paris as residents of the capital celebrated France's march to the World Cup final.

A crowd of 20,000 gathered to watch Didier Deschamps' team beat Belgium 1-0 in their semi-final in Saint Petersburg on a giant screen at Paris' historic Hotel de Ville, or town hall.

With viewing space at a premium every vantage spot was occupied -- with fans perched on trees, on top of vans, on dustbins and bus shelters.

Samuel Umtiti's decisive goal in the 51st minute triggered the waving of a sea of tricolor flags as ecstatic supporters -- many in the national team's colours -- kissed and hugged and danced.

"Vive la France, vive la Republique" shouted Alia and Sacha, two Parisian schoolchildren.

"We are so proud to be French tonight!" Alia explained as fire crackers exploded on the cobblestones.

Motorbikes, cycles, cars, dustbin lorries - they all came to a standstill to join in the celebrations. With France under high security since the November 2015 terror attacks the fan zone at the town hall was policed by over 1,200 members of the security forces.

Fans, who had climbed on top of buses gingerly inching their way through the crowds, were dancing and waving flares and flags, as the bus driver fought a losing battle to get his passengers to their destination on time.