Football supporters riot in Brussels city centre
After several hundred people gathered in the Beurs area of Brussels to celebrate the Moroccan side’s victory on Saturday night, riots broke out, leading to serious damage to shops and cars
‘We were surprised by the intensity’
According to police, some 300 people were involved in the riots – torching cars, smashing shop windows with cobblestones, looting businesses and damaging the temporary structures being built for the city’s Christmas market. Lemonnierlaan was the hardest hit.
Local and federal officers were patrolling the area from 20.00, and business owners affected by the looting have accused them of being too slow to intervene. Police eventually used a water cannon to disperse the crowd.
“We were surprised by the intensity and speed with which businesses were looted,” said a police spokesperson. “Whenever there is a football match – Turks, Italians, no matter which country wins – we are prepared for that. But this was exceptional.”
Twenty-two officers were injured in the clash, while one citizen had to be taken to hospital. Only one arrest was made, and the man was later released.
Federal interior minister Jan Jambon condemned the “unacceptable violence” on Twitter, adding: “Living together means respect, also for the police who are committed to our safety day and night.”
Jambon has asked the inspector-general of the federal police to begin an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the violence – and the lack of arrests. Police trade unions have also called for an urgent meeting.
Police said that any passers-by with images of rioters and looting can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone who suffered damage to property can call 02 279 79 09.
Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA