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Moroccan soccer fans celebrate World Cup win against Belgium by rioting in the EU capital, setting fires, attacking police, and looting

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Image source: Twitter @visegrad24 Video Screenshot

Riots broke out on Sunday in Brussels, the de facto capital of the European Union, and spread to other European cities after Morocco's 2-0 victory over the Belgian soccer team in the World Cup.

Celebrating with mayhem

The World Cup is presently under way in Doha, Qatar. On Sunday, Morocco beat Belgium, which was ranked second in the world after Brazil and had won the previous seven games.

According to the Associated Press, this was Morocco's first win at a World Cup in 24 years and its third win ever. The north African team will go onto play against Canada at the Al Thumama Stadium.

To celebrate the victory, some of the estimated 500,000 Moroccans who live in Belgium and other bad actors reportedly took to the streets, setting fires, overturning cars, looting shops, assaulting police, and attacking police stations.

Police indicated that the "rioters used pyrotechnic material, projectiles, sticks, and set fire on the public highway" and noted that a journalist had been "injured in the face by fireworks."

Bus shelters and traffic lights were also torn down.

East of Brussels, in the city of Liege, around 50 rioters reportedly attacked a police station, bashing in windows and destroying police vehicles.

To prevent the destructive merrymaking from spreading, select public transit stations in Brussels were shut down.

Videos documenting the mayhem have since circulated online, showing vehicles transformed into infernos:

Cars were overturned and smashed:

Incendiary devices were set off in crowded areas:

The New York Times reported that police in Brussels attempted to restore order and disperse the mob using tear gas and water cannons.

In another video shared by reporter Yasin Akouh, rioters can be seen fleeing police as water cannons deluge the street:

The water cannons appear to have served a dual function, both chasing out the mob and snuffing out fires the rioters left in their wake:

The mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, voiced his condemnation of the riots online, warning soccer fans "not to come to the center," as police, in an effort to "maintain public order," were asked to make arrests.

The International Business Times reported that 11 people were ultimately arrested.

As for the rioters, Close stated, "Those are not fans, they are rioters. Moroccan fans are there to celebrate."

Police spokesman Ilse Van de Keere indicated that "around 7 p.m. calm returned and preventive patrols remain in place in the sectors concerned."

Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said, "Sad to see how a few individuals abuse a situation to run amok."

Not limited to Belgium

Moroccan riots broke out throughout the Netherlands, hitting Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and the Hague.

ABC News noted that in Rotterdam, a mob of nearly 500 rioters attacked police with fireworks and glass.

These soccer-related Moroccan riots were not unprecedented.

The BBC reported that in 2017, rioters celebrating Morocco's qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup injured over 20 Belgian police officers and also attacked police in the Netherlands.

As in this most recent incident, rioters then had looted, burned at least one car, and damaged property throughout Brussels.

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