Jan Jambon, the Minister for the Interior, stressed on Thursday, “Anti-semitism and racism are disgusting.” His comment followed incidents which occurred during the match between the Antwerpen (Royal Antwerpen Football Club) and Beerschot (KFCO Beerschot Wilrijk), clubs.
The Antwerpen Derby on Sunday gave rise to brawls between supporters and police intervention. No less than 29 people were arrested for questioning. The Antwerpen Court in Chambers confirmed the detention of six of these for assault and battery, constitution of a criminal gang and participation in a private vigilante group.
The presence of a flag and given anti-Semitic songs also generated controversy. The actions led the Pro League to call the Beerschot club to order and impose measures to avoid the recurrence of these types of incidents.
Eric Thiébaut (PS) levelled in parliament at the Minister, “The absence of reaction from the government surprises me. You are far quicker to react when incidents occur in Brussels than when they occur in the Antwerpen area.” A Vlaams Belang deputy then grumbled, saying that there is an urgent need to respond: some extremist groups are becoming increasingly violent.
Although some flags or songs have an assumed “recreational” scope, they “have no place in stadiums.” The Public Prosecutor for Antwerp is handling the case. The Minister added, “I hope that [the Prosecutor] will conduct appropriate investigations, and that the necessary sanctions will be imposed on the troublemakers. I wholeheartedly hope that this happens.”