The celebrations over Morocco’s World Cup qualification turned violent in Brussels, leaving 20 police officers injured.
On Saturday, Morocco qualified for the 2018 World Cup after a 2 – 0 win against Ivory Coast. The national team had not qualified for the tournament since 1998. Morocco only needed a draw to qualify but got the victory away against Ivory Coast, which will miss the tournament for the first time in 12 years. Tunisia also qualified for the tournament on Saturday, joining Egypt, Morocco, Senegal and Nigeria as representatives for Africa at the World Cup.
Morocco’s World Cup qualification quickly led to celebrations from Moroccan communities around the world. In Belgium, where there is a large Moroccan community, the celebrations began right after the win. The celebrations took place mostly in the capital Brussels but things turned violent at one point.
Police said some shops were looted while others were left with damages. A car was also burnt during the riot. Videos taken by witnesses show police using a water cannon to disperse a group of people. Police later said the water cannon was used on a group of about 300 people that was throwing objects at them.
On Sunday, the center of Brussels woke up to a much different area than before the celebrations. Many shops had been looted or had suffered damages during the riot. Street signs and furniture were also destroyed or damaged.
Celebrations over Morocco’s World Cup qualification took place in many countries and the majority of them were peaceful. But there were reports of riots or celebrations getting out of control in other countries. In the Netherlands, large groups of people took the streets to celebrate after the game. Some of the celebrations also ended up turning violent. Police tweeted that some people threw objects at officers during the celebrations.
Belgium’s Interior Minister Jan Jambon spoke against the incidents, tweeting that they were part of an unacceptable aggression. He also said that living together means respect, also for the authorities who are committed to their safety.
Morocco last appeared at a World Cup in 1998. In that edition, the team recorded its second ever victory. Morocco had a win, a loss and a draw at the tournament for a total of four points but a shocking victory by Norway against Brazil in the last group stage match left them just one point away from the next round.