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French Continue World Cup Party

July 13, 1998

PARIS (AP) _ There was just enough time for some sleep and a quick cleanup before France’s World Cup victory party kicked off anew Monday.

Hundreds of thousands of flag-waving, screaming fans jammed the Champs-Elysees yet again, this time to acclaim in person the heroes of France’s 3-0 win over Brazil.

``What a day to be French! Champions of the world, at last,″ said 28-year-old Christian Bourdieu after the French squad passed by on an open-topped, double-decker bus.

Tony Chambard, who climbed a tree to get a glimpse of the players, said it was about time that France won recognition for its talented players.

``Nobody said we could win the World Cup,″ he said. ``Nobody respected us. Where are all those critics now?″

Others hung from lampposts and stood on top of restaurants and newspaper kiosks as the bus carved its way through the crowds.

``Zizou for president! Zizou for president!″ chanted the crowd, using the nickname of Zinedine Zidane, the midfielder who scored two goals in Sunday’s win.

Fans waving French flags, their cheeks painted red, white and blue, were joined by those raising the Algerian national colors _ white, green and red _ in honor of Zidane, the son of Algerian immigrants.

Players and fans joined in the chant of the day, a giddy reference to the game’s score: ``It’s one, it’s two, it’s three-zero.″

Office workers threw red-white-and-blue confetti from office windows, and others waved from balconies adorned with French flags.

``I’ve been up all night,″ said Elisabeth Wallon, 22. ``It was magnificent. I’ve never seen a celebration like it.″

The avenue was so packed that the bus couldn’t complete its route up to the Arc de Triomphe, and had to escape down a side street.

The players took turns holding the golden trophy over their heads. They kissed and hugged each other, waving to the crowd. Coach Aime Jacquet grinned and raised his arms in triumph.

The victory was particularly sweet for Jacquet, the target of widespread criticism before the tournament by those who said he’d put together an unspectacular, unambitious team.

``You have to admire him,″ said Pauline Correa, who said she has become a soccer fan in the five weeks since the tournament began. ``Jacquet proved everybody wrong.″

After a drenching downpour Monday morning, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, giving the joyous celebrations a warm glow.

There was no sign of the chaos just hours earlier, when a panicked driver drove her car into a crowd of revelers, injuring 80 people, 11 of them seriously. None was critically hurt, however.

The woman, a 44-year-old teacher, turned herself in to police Monday. Police said she had been undergoing psychiatric treatment for four years, and had panicked in the face of the aggressive crowd.

French TV provided live coverage of Monday’s parade, which along with the post-victory party on the Champs-Elysees was the biggest celebration in Paris since the Liberation from the Nazis in 1944.

``We are undoubtedly the best in the world,″ said another fan, Carl Guard, 31. ``People will now respect us.

``We’ll party all today and tomorrow,″ he said, referring to Tuesday’s celebration of the anniversary of the French Revolution, Bastille Day.

``And who knows _ maybe all week.″