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Belgian police arrest 100 soccer fans after Morocco defeat

December 15, 2022

Smaller scuffles also broke out in several cities across France. In Montpellier, a boy died after being hit by a car amid the furor. Police were out in force fearing larger confrontations.

A soccer fan with a Moroccan flag draped over his back, with fires burning in the streets in front of him
Morocco fans took to the streets in Brussels after the defeat against FranceImage: Simon Wohlfahrt/AFP

Police in the Belgian capital, Brussels, have arrested some 100 people in the wake of Morocco's defeat against France at the World Cup semi-finals.

Among the detained soccer fans on Wednesday night were people accused of disturbing the public order, damaging two police vehicles and possessing illegal pyrotechnics, Belgian police said in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Several people were also arrested in Antwerp, local news agency Belga reported. Authorities had feared larger disruptions following riots in Belgium and the Netherlands after Morocco beat Belgium in the group stage of the tournament. 

Belgian riot police after the France-Morocco match
Belgian riot police dispersed protesters for an hour following the matchImage: Simon Wohlfahrt/AFP

French fans celebrate victory

Despite jubilant scenes across France, police had nevertheless mobilized around 10,000 officers to prevent any unrest during and after the match between Morocco and its former colonizer.

Officers dispersed a group of fans using fireworks near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and deployed tear gas against soccer fans who set off firecrackers in the southern city of Nice.

Police made around 170 arrests nationwide, including a group of around 40 people aligned with far-right groups who were caught carrying prohibited weapons.

Soccer fans celebrating with fireworks at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Police moved along soccer fans who celebrated with fireworks at the Arc de TriompheImage: Lewis Joly/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Tragedy in Montpellier

In the southern city of Montpellier, Morocco fans responded to the loss by firing flares and filling the streets.

Local authorities said a 14-year-old boy was stuck by a car. The boy died in hospital shortly afterward.

Footage posted to social media showed fans pulling a French flag off the vehicle in question before the driver performed a sudden U-turn.

A police investigation is underway.

zc/sms (dpa, AP, AFP)