Police used water cannon to disperse crowds in the Belgian capital after the mood turned sour during the country’s shock defeat by Morocco in the FIFA World Cup on Sunday.
Even before the end of the match, “dozens of people, including some in hoodies, sought a confrontation with the police, compromising public safety,” Brussels police said in a statement.
Rioters smashed shop windows, set off fireworks and set vehicles on fire. Videos posted on social media showed people breaking the windows of a red car before flipping it over and setting it on fire.
Mayor Philippe Close condemned the violence, writing on Twitter that police were forced to act “harshly”.
“Those are not fans, they are rioters. The Moroccan fans are there to celebrate,” Close said later.
Police have arrested a dozen people.
Violence also erupted in Antwerp, Belgium’s most populous city, and in Liège.
“It’s sad to see how some people abuse a situation to go crazy,” said Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.
Clashes in the Netherlands
In Rotterdam, riot police confronted a group of 500 football fans who hurled fireworks and glass at them.
Authorities also reported riots in The Hague and in the capital Amsterdam, where a car was set on fire.
Riot police fanned out on Amsterdam’s Mercatorplein, a square in the west of the city. The neighborhood is home to a large Moroccan community.
The Moroccan soccer team has a particularly massive following in the Netherlands, with Dutch winger Hakim Ziyech beginning his career at Ajax Amsterdam before transferring to Chelsea.
Joy in Rabat
Meanwhile, in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, people took to the streets for spontaneous celebrations.
There was dancing, singing and waving Moroccan flags, as drivers honked their horns as they drove through the streets of Rabat.
Sunday’s win against Belgium was Morocco’s first World Cup win since beating Scotland in 1998.
Both teams still have a chance to advance to the round of 16 of the tournament depending on how their final group stage matches go, with Belgium set to play Croatia and Morocco set to play Canada.
lo/fb (AFP, AP, dpa)