Belgium’s World Cup defeat by Morocco leads to riots on streets of Brussels

Belgium’s shock World Cup defeat by Morocco on Sunday led to riots on the streets of Brussels, with photos and videos showing cars being smashed and upturned, and fires being started.

The incidents in the Belgian capital, which saw riot police deployed, followed the national football team’s surprise 2-0 loss to Morocco in Group F, a result that puts Roberto Martinez’s side on the brink of an early exit from the competition in Qatar.

The result led to violent riots in Brussels, which led to the deployment of riot police.

Photos and video footage show cars and other property being vandalised in the streets of the Belgian capital, with fires also lit in the roads.

Police deployed water cannons and fired tear gas to disperse crowds, and subway and tram traffic had to be interrupted on police orders.

Brussels mayor Philippe Close urged people to stay away from the city centre and said authorities were doing their utmost to keep order in the streets.

There were also disturbances in the city of Antwerp, where – as in Brussels – Morocco’s win was enthusiastically celebrated by fans with Moroccan immigrant roots. It was not immediately clear how many people were detained during the disturbances.

One Brussels resident told The Independent that the riots were a result of Moroccco fans’ “celebrations” going “overboard”.

Moroccan community leaders condemned the violence of the riots.

This edition of the World Cup is seen as a ‘golden generation’ of players’ final shot at claiming Belgium’s first major trophy, and their Qatar campaign began with a 1-0 win against Canada on Wednesday. Striker Michy Batsuayi scored the only goal of that game after Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saved a penalty early on, but Martinez’s side generally played poorly.

They followed that match with another under-par performance on Sunday, as Morocco pulled off an upset, with Courtois at fault for the first goal.

It means Belgium go into their final group-stage game, against Croatia, realistically needing a win if they are to reach the knockout stages. Belgium would, however, go through with a draw coupled with a heavy goal-difference swing in the match between Morocco and the already-eliminated Canada.

With additional reporting via Associated Press.