Moroccan fans riot in Brussels after World Cup qualification

FAN VIOLENCE

Moroccan fans riot in Brussels after World Cup qualification

Moroccan fans riot in Brussels after World Cup qualification

NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

AFP

22 police officers were injured and shops were looted after Morocco supporters' celebrations turned ugly in the Belgian capital on Saturday.

Riots occurred in Brussels when celebrations over the Moroccan national football team's qualification for the 2018 World Cup turned violent.

At least 22 police officers were injured in the incidents in the Belgian capital, which saw cars burned, windows smashed and shops looted.

Brussels, a city that is home to one of Europe’s largest Moroccan communities, suffered the gross misbehaviour of football fans for almost two hours.

On Saturday, Morocco booked their place at Russia 2018 after beating Ivory Coast 2-0, marking their return to the tournament for the first time in two decades.

Celebrations turn violent

Around 1,500 people gathered in the centre of Brussels to celebrate the team's win, of which roughly 300 were involved in the disturbances, according to police reports.

Riot police were called out to intervene, and were forced to use a water canon to stop the mob from throwing stones and smashing glasses.

Calm had mostly returned by 21:30, two hours after the end of the match.

According to prosecutors, by Sunday morning no arrests had yet been made, but Belgium’s interior minister promised to bring those responsible to account.

"The fundamental problem is that such events are used as an excuse for reckless behaviour and doing unacceptable things," Interior Minister Jan Jambon told Belgium’s Radio 1.

"We have camera images - whoever did this will pay for this, there is no way around it," he added.

Celebrations in the Netherlands

Brussels was not the only European city that witnessed celebrations after Morocco’s World Cup qualification.

In the Netherlands, large groups of fans took the streets to rejoice.

According to the BBC, some celebrations turned violent in The Hague.

In Rotterdam, joyful fans set off flares with the colours of the Moroccan flag.

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