Morocco’s win was a major upset at the tournament and was enthusiastically celebrated by fans with Moroccan immigrant roots in several Belgian and Dutch cities Sunday evening.
Police detained around a dozen people after they deployed water cannons and use tear gas to disperse crowds in Brussels and eight more in the Northern city of Antwerp. Two police officials were injured in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam. An uneasy calm had returned to most of the cities by late evening Sunday, according to a report by Associated Press.
Dozens of rioters smashed shop windows, damaged and torched cars, set vehicles on fire, and pelted stones and bricks. Police moved in after one person suffered facial injuries, said Brussels police spokesperson Ilse Van de Keere.
Even before the end of the match, “dozens of people, including some wearing hoodies, sought confrontation with the police, which compromised public safety”, Brussels police said in a statement.
Brussels mayor Philippe Close requested people to stay away from the city center and said authorities were doing their utmost to maintain order in the streets. Even subway and tram traffic had to be interrupted by police orders.
“Those are not fans, they are rioters. Moroccan fans are there to celebrate,” Close said. There were also disturbances in the city of Antwerp and Liege.
“Sad to see how a few individuals abuse a situation to run amok,” said Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.
Netherlands police said violence erupted in the port city of Rotterdam, with riot officers attempting to disperse a group of over 500 soccer supporters who pelted police teams with fireworks and glass. Media reported unrest in the capital Amsterdam and The Hague.