Riots broke out in several Belgian and Dutch cities after Morocco’s surprise 2-0 win over Belgium at the World Cup, with a mayor blaming opportunistic offenders – not Belgian fans – for the damage.
Police arrested about a dozen people after using water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds in Brussels.
Dozens of rioters have overturned and set fire to cars, set fire to electric scooters and pelted cars with bricks.
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Police moved in after one person suffered facial injuries, Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere said.
Some reports indicated that Belgian fans were protesting the defeat, but photos also showed many Moroccan flags at the heart of the incidents.
However, Brussels Mayor Philippe Close said the football fans soaking up the result were a front for those wanting to cause chaos.
“These are not fans, these are rioters. Moroccan fans are there to celebrate,” he said.
Morocco’s victory was a big surprise at the World Cup and was enthusiastically celebrated by fans with Moroccan immigrants in many Belgian and Dutch cities.
Close urged people to stay away from Brussels city center and said authorities were doing their utmost to maintain order on the streets.
The underground and tram traffic also had to be interrupted by order of the police.
There were also riots in Antwerp and Liège.
“Sad to see a few individuals abuse a situation to run amok,” said Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.
Police in the neighboring Netherlands said violence erupted in the port city of Rotterdam as riot police tried to break up a group of 500 supporters who were throwing firecrackers and glass at police.
Local media reported unrest in the capital Amsterdam and The Hague.
Belgium, second in the world rankings behind Brazil, had won their last seven group games at the World Cup.
They would have been the second team after holders France to qualify for the knockout stages if they had beaten Morocco, but now they meet 2018 finalists Croatia in a crucial final group game.
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez brought down star striker Romelu Lukaku, the country’s record goalscorer, with less than 10 minutes to go in a desperate bid to get one back.
Lukaku hasn’t played since October and is just coming back from a left thigh problem. He struggled to impress as Morocco threatened at the break before Aboukhlal scored his second goal.
Belgium reached the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia before losing to eventual champions France.
But they struggled 1-0 against Canada in the opening game when Lukaku’s absence was conspicuous.
“It’s a difficult result because the first goal affected the result a lot,” Martinez said. “It was a dead ball situation and from that point we couldn’t get our game going.
“I think we had good moments, but we couldn’t create any clear chances.”
– with AP
https://7news.com.au/sport/world-cup-soccer/shock-twist-after-moroccos-world-cup-win-sparks-wild-riots-in-several-cities-across-belgium-and-netherlands-c-8987361 Shocking turn of events as Morocco’s victory over Belgium sparks wild riots in several cities after FIFA World Cup 2022 excitement