BRUSSELS (AP) – Riots broke out in several Belgian and Dutch cities after Morocco’s surprise 2-0 win over Belgium on Sunday.
Police arrested about a dozen people after using water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds in Brussels and eight others in the northern city of Antwerp. Two police officers were injured in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam. By late Sunday evening, an alarming calm had returned to most of the cities involved.
Dozens of rioters have overturned and set fire to cars, set fire to electric scooters and pelted cars with bricks. Police moved in after one person suffered facial injuries, Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere said.
Brussels Mayor Philippe Close urged people to stay away from the city center and said authorities were doing their utmost to maintain order on the streets. The underground and tram traffic also had to be interrupted by order of the police.
“These are not fans, these are rioters. Moroccan fans are here to celebrate,” Close said. There were also riots in Antwerp and Liège.
“Sad to see how a few individuals abuse a situation to run amok,” said Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.
Police in the neighboring Netherlands said violence erupted in the port city of Rotterdam when riot police tried to disperse a group of 500 football fans who were throwing firecrackers and glass at police. Media reported unrest in the capital Amsterdam and The Hague.
Morocco’s victory was a big surprise at the World Cup and was enthusiastically celebrated by fans with Moroccan immigrants in many Belgian and Dutch cities.