Riots in Belgium, Netherlands after Moroccan win in Qatar

BRUSSELS, 28 Nov 2022:

Rioting erupted in several cities in Belgium and The Netherlands last night after the former’s national soccer team went down to a 2-0 defeat against Morocco in World Cup play in Qatar.

Police in Brussels used water cannons and tear gas to disperse angry crowds and about a dozen people were arrested, according to news reports.

The incidents in the Belgian capital began during the second half when about 150 young people gathered downtown – to set fire to a dumpster, hurled fireworks and started vandalising parked cars in the vicinity, Belgium’s public RTBF television reported.

Meanwhile, eight people were arrested in Antwerp. In Liege, about 50 angry rioters attacked a police station, breaking windows and causing other damage to squad cars, while others vandalised parked cars and stores.

Rioters smashed the windows of parked cars and set some of them on fire, public transportation on metros and trams was also briefly halted by the unrest in a number of cities.

“Those are not fans, they are rioters,” Brussels mayor Philippe Close told Yahoo Sports Australia. “Moroccan fans are there to celebrate. I condemn in the strongest terms the incidents of this afternoon.”

Meanwhile, some 500 people gathered in Rotterdam to throw firecrackers and bottles at police officers, injuring two of them, law enforcement authorities reported.

And in Amsterdam, about 500 people set small fires here and there and hurled firecrackers, although there were also similar disturbances in Utrecht and Amersfoort.

Morocco and Belgium had battled fruitlessly until the 73rd minute, when Romain Saiss finally scored for the North African team, and then Zakaria Aboukhlal added another tally for Morocco in stoppage time.

It was the nation’s first World Cup win since 1998, and the result puts Belgium in danger of being eliminated in the group stage.

The Belgian squad on Thursday will go up against Croatia – who beat Canada yesterday – and must win that match to be able to move to the knock-out Round of 16.