The Royal Belgian Football Union and the travel agent Sun Reizen have both been acquitted by the court of appeal in Brussels in the case of the campsite provided for Belgian fans who travelled to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. The Union had provided information to fans in advance, describing Devillage as a de luxe campsite with high quality accommodation and meals, as well as electricity and wifi. But when fans had travelled the 9,000-odd kilometres to Brazil, they found their accommodation to be anything but luxurious. Sanitary provisions were inadequate for the numbers using them, there was no wifi and electricity connections were few.
One supporter told the RTBF he had paid 130 euros a night for a stay of 12 nights, a total of 1,580 euros for a sub-standard campsite.
To make matters worse, the Belgian beer the fans had been promised took days to arrive.
A legal complaint was brought by consumer organisation Test-Achats on behalf of 206 disgruntled fans claiming damages of 500 euros to 5,725 euros, for a total of some 800,000 euros. The complaint cited the Football Union, the travel agency and Oranjecamping, the Brazilian company responsible for the physical accommodation. The latter party was acquitted at first instance, while the two others were fined 3,000 euros and ordered to repay the fees paid. They appealed the ruling, and have seen the fines and reimbursement order overturned.
Both parties argued the responsibility lay with Oranjecamping, now no longer part of the case. The judgement found they were not responsible for the problems.
However a civil case is ongoing in Brussels in an attempt by disappointed fans to recoup some of their losses. The judge in that case is not bound by the court of appeal’s ruling this week, which was solely concerned with criminal liability.