Field Hockey World Cup: Red Lions celebrations at the Grand Place Tuesday
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    Field Hockey World Cup: Red Lions celebrations at the Grand Place Tuesday

    © Belga
    © Belga

    The new field hockey world champions, Belgium’s Red Lions, return home on Tuesday morning from India, and will then be received at City Hall, where they appear on the balcony, just as the Red Devils had done after winning third place at the Soccer World Cup. The Red Lions won the Field Hockey World Cup by beating the Netherlands 3-2 in a shootout in Sunday’s final in Bhubaneshwar, India. They will land at Brussels Airport around 6.30 a.m. on Tuesday. After being welcomed by the crowd and their families at the airport, they will be whisked to the city centre, where the local notables will be waiting for them.

    Brussels Mayor Philippe Close and Sports Alderman Benoît Hellings announced the reception almost simultaneously on Twitter reception.

    “It’s official. The city of Brussels, together with all Belgians and especially the Red Lions themselves, will celebrate their fantastic victory at the Grand-Place on Tuesday 18/12 at midday,” Hellings tweeted.

    “Super happy to welcome the Red Lions, our new hockey champions, on the balcony of Brussels City Hall,” Philippe Close confirmed moments later. “We shall be waiting in large numbers to receive them.” He added: “We still have to organise the day, but after their arrival, they will be received without doubt at around 11 a.m. before greeting their supporters from the City Hall balcony.”

    Close also explained that the squad would meet the press before going out onto the balcony.

    “I really invite a maximum of people to meet us at the Grand-Place; this first title of hockey world champion is something unique,” stressed the mayor, who saw it as evident that something had to be organised in their honour. “Hockey is booming; this sport is attracting more and more people and what the Red Lions have done is of great consequence.”

    “It’s really a beautiful year for the City Hall balcony, after the reception for the Devils for their (Football) World Cup third place,” he added. “They were already there in 1986.Then there was Justine Henin after her first Grand Chelem victory (in 2003, editor’s note). This shows that sport can bring people together and arouse great fervour. I really invite all Belgians, especially in the present circumstances, to show that they are united.”

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times