Riots in Brussels after Morocco beat Belgium at World Cup

Police were forced to seal off parts of Brussels central business district, deploy water cannons and fire tear gas to disperse rioting crowds following Morocco’s 2-0 win over Belgium at the World Cup.

The rioters set tires on fire and pelted cars with stones forcing police to move in after scores sustained injuries and businesses affected.

Brussels mayor Philippe Close warned the rioters to keep off the city center as he promised that authorities were doing their utmost to restore order in the streets. Even subway and tram traffic had to be interrupted on police orders.

Morocco’s victory was a major upset at the World Cup and was enthusiastically celebrated by fans with Moroccan immigrant roots in many Belgian cities.

Morocco players celebrating a goal against Belgium at the World Cup tournament in Qatar {p/courtesy]

Even before the end of the match, “dozens of people, including some wearing hoodies, sought confrontation with the police, which compromised public safety,” Brussels stated.

Rioters smashed shop windows, threw fireworks, and torched vehicles. Videos posted on social media showed people smashing the windows of a red car before flipping it and setting it on fire.

“Those are not fans, they are rioters. Moroccan fans are there to celebrate,” Close said.

Belgium’s Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said that it was sad to see how a few individuals abuse a situation to run amok after chaos also erupted in Antwerp, Belgium’s most-populous city, and Liege.

Police have arrested dozens but in Moroccan capital, Rabat, people spilled into the streets to celebrate the win with songs and dances as they waved Moroccan flags.

Victory over Belgium is the country’s first win at a World Cup since they beat Scotland in 1998.

But both teams still have a chance of advancing to the last 16 of the tournament depending on how their final group stage matches go. Belgium will meet Croatia in their next match while Morocco is set to play Canada.

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