MADRID (AP) — Spain celebrated its Women’s World Cup title at home with Olga Carmona being thrown up into the air by her teammates in front of thousands of fans who welcomed the newly crowned champions on Monday.
Carmona, who scored the winning goal in Sunday’s final against England, participated in the celebrations despite being told after the match that her father had died following an illness. Her family decided to wait until the match was over to inform Carmona.
“Today is a very special day for the entire country, but it’s also a bit complicated for me,” Carmona told the fans who greeted the players a day after La Roja’s 1-0 win over England in Australia.
“Yesterday was a day of mixed emotions for me,” she said. “At one point it was the best day of my life, but then it became the worst. I’m really moved to be able to offer this joy for the entire country. Now you have the star that you all wanted so much, and not only the one that we will carry on our chests, but also all the ones that are in the sky and that accompanied us.”
Carmona had been thrown up in the air by her teammates shortly after she entered the stage prepared for the team’s celebrations in Madrid. Fans chanted her name repeatedly, “Olga, Olga, Olga…”
Carmona’s father was ill and died while her mother and other relatives traveled to Australia to watch her in the final. The 23-year-old Real Madrid player was named the final’s most valuable player and became the first player since American Carli Lloyd in 2015 to score in a World Cup semifinal and final.
Carmona and her teammates earlier paraded on an open-air bus past some of Madrid’s most iconic sites, dancing and waving to fans who lined up along the streets of the capital carrying Spain flags and wearing the nation’s red-and-yellow colors.
The players arrived at the celebration spot near midnight local time, some three hours after their plane had landed. A DJ, local musicians and other attractions were in place to entertain fans as they waited for the players at the Madrid Rio park.
The celebrations ended some four hours later with confetti being sprinkled onto the stage and players, staff and fans singing “We Are The Champions.”
During the charter flight to Madrid, players celebrated and chanted together with the World Cup trophy. Captain Ivana Andrés gave a speech on the passenger address system. The flight also included federation officials, sponsors, and journalists.
A Spain flag was waved outside a plane window at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas. A couple of flight attendants came out of the front door carrying a flag, then Andrés, coach Jorge Vilda and federation president Luis Rubiales came out offering the trophy. The group came off the plane and posed for a photo with the trophy and their winners’ medals.
Rubiales had been harshly criticized throughout the day for kissing a player on the lips during the medal ceremony after the final, drawing allegations of inappropriate conduct in a sport that has struggled to overcome sexism. The outspoken federation president later released a video apologizing for his actions. He did not appear to be at the celebration venue.
Vilda, who endured a rebellion by players who didn’t like his methods less than a year ago, received a lukewarm welcome by fans. He had been jeered by some during a viewing party in Madrid during the final.
“Without your energy and support, this wouldn’t have been possible,” he told fans. “We said that we were going to take you to the streets, and today we are celebrating what we achieved.”
Spain hadn’t celebrated a soccer world title since the men’s team won its lone World Cup trophy in 2010 in South Africa.
Only Germany has also won the women’s and men’s World Cups.