By GRAHAM DUNBAR
MOSCOW (AP) — In a stadium packed with presidents watching the World Cup final, no one had as much fun as Emmanuel Macron.
The French head of state joined his country’s victorious players in the locker room after they beat Croatia 4-2. He jostled with midfielder Paul Pogba while being filmed for Snapchat. And he posed for picture doing a dab pose with defender Benjamin Mendy.
It was a rousing evening for a president who went through a range of emotions at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Earlier in the evening, Macron had paced nervously and then leaped euphorically from his seat in the VIP section as a guest of FIFA and Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the game, Macron offered up a flurry of kisses in the exuberant, rain-soaked celebrations.
He kissed Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on both cheeks.
He kissed France teammates Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann on their foreheads.
He even kissed the top of the golden World Cup trophy.
Macron seemed to be so happy that he was unconcerned about being caught in a torrential downpour on the field at the awards ceremony. An umbrella was produced to keep Putin dry, but Macron looked quite content to brave the rain.
Then, as Macron and Grabar-Kitarovic walked toward the tunnel to leave the field, his heels were almost clipped by some exuberant France players who were sliding on their bellies and their behinds across the soaked grass toward a bank of photographers beside a group of state presidents.
Putin and FIFA also hosted the presidents of Belarus, Sudan, Armenia and Gabon, plus the Emir of Qatar.
Two hours earlier, a very different side of Macron was seen during a break of play to review a refereeing decision that changed the game in France’s favor. The game was even at 1-1, with Croatia playing better, when a handball was eventually called and gave France a penalty kick.
Macron was shown on the television broadcast nervously standing and waiting for the referee’s ruling.
On his official Twitter account, Macron later posted a simple message to the team: “MERCI.”