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Barca fans celebrate team's win

Barcelona supporters thronged the streets to greet their team on its return after winning the Champions League.

india Updated: May 19, 2006 10:48 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

Barcelona supporters thronged the streets on Thursday to greet their team on its return from Paris, a day after it beat Arsenal to win the European Champions League title for the second time.

An estimated half million people turned out as Barcelona players and officials traveled from the Olympic port to its Camp Nou stadium in a giant truck, which pounded out music and was bedecked with banners proclaiming 'Campions d'Europa' (Champions of Europe).

Brazilians Ronaldinho and Juliano Belletti - who scored the winner in the 2-1 victory - used drumsticks to hit a pair of timbales at the front of the truck, close to the trophy itself.

The parade was the second this month for Barcelona, which was cheered by more than a million people on May 7 after winning its second straight Spanish league title.

The team arrived at Camp Nou to another rousing reception, preceded by a sound and light show and musical performances, with captain Carles Puyol and midfielder Xavi Hernandez carrying its first Champions Cup for 14 years onto the field.

After the players performed a lap of honor, coach Frank Rijkaard addressed the crowd in Catalan, referring to the journey the team had made to the French capital for the final.

"We have traveled 2,000 kilometers to take the first step. I know that this team hasn't taken its last step. Long live Barcelona," Rijkaard said.

Ronaldinho told supporters that the team was 'living the moment it had dreamed about most.'

"There is nothing better than celebrating it with you all and enjoying this party," added the FIFA World Player of the Year award winner the last two years.

Earlier on Thursday, Rijkaard and Puyol emerged from the plane at El Prat airport with the trophy. The team, all wearing T-shirts bearing the club slogan 'More than a club' in Catalan, was then transported by boat to the port, close to the monument of Christopher Columbus.

Barcelona's victory at Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Wednesday sparked celebrations by an estimated 125,000 in downtown Barcelona shortly after the final whistle although the party was marred by outbreaks of violence.

Police said 45 people were arrested - mostly close to Canaletes fountain on Las Ramblas, the traditional site for celebrating the club's wins - after several shops were looted and garbage containers and telephone kiosks were set afire.

Medical assistance was required for 109 people - including six police officers - and 30 people were taken to hospitals, although none with serious injuries. Many of those were hurt after police mounted a charge against the troublemakers.

Barcelona city hall valued the damage at euro100,000 (US $128,000). Supporters also set garbage bins alight in other Catalan towns, although no injuries were reported.

In the southern city of Granada, police fired rubber bullets in running battles with fans that threw bottles; set garbage bins alight, broke shop windows and damaged police cars. Seven arrests were made, and eight people, including five officers, were treated for injuries.

Trouble also occurred in the southeastern coastal city of Alicante where revelers attacked police, throwing bottles and other objects. Fans also burned garbage bins, forcing firefighters to intervene.

First Published: May 19, 2006 10:48 IST