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Riots broke out in both Belgium and France this week from Morocco fans following their dramatic qualification into the last-16 of the World Cup. While the scenes were not said to be as violent as the disturbances from Sunday evening when Morocco beat Belgium, the police were still required to intervene.
Belgian news agency Belga claim 18 people were taken into police custody on Thursday following Morocco’s success. Firecrackers were set off and some fireworks are even said to have ‘hit the police’.
Tear gas was used to try and disperse the rowdy crowd with several streets in the Belgian capital of Brussels closed off temporarily. Celebrations also took place in Antwerp where 35 people are said to have been arrested with three police officers suffering injuries.
French media also reported that several Morocco fans forced transport networks to close in the city of Avignon. Rubbish bins were set on fire with firefighters needed to come and diffuse the situation.
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The wild scenes came after Morocco’s impressive 2-1 win over Canada in their final group match. The result saw them qualify for the knockout stage of the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Morocco ended up topping their group after also beating Belgium and drawing with Croatia. But they face a difficult test in the last 16 against Spain, who failed to finish top of their group after losing to Japan.
Spain had looked like early favourites to win the World Cup following their impressive 6-2 demolition of Costa Rica in their opening group game. They were held to a 1-1 draw with Germany, but were expected to prove too much for Japan.
However, Luis Enrique took aim at his players for their display against Japan and warned to expect much of the same against Morocco. “Japan go through first and it’s deserved because they beat Germany and Spain,” Enrique said.
“The mourning and the pain, we’ll go through that tonight, there’s nothing to celebrate. We have gone through second, yes, but this has to serve as a warning to be aware that this is going to happen.
“If against Morocco we have the fortune to go in front, Morocco, will risk it all at full pelt again. We have to show more strength in the moments when the opposition is pressing us.”
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