The discovery of an underground fighting ring organised by fans of the Beerschot football club has led to 22 criminal sentences for participation in organised brawls held in remote locations.
The facts came to light during the investigation into the attack by Antwerp-hooligans on Beerschot supporters on 13 August 2017 in Mortsel, De Standaard reports. The police found messages, photos and videos of fights on the mobile phones of some of those involved.
Further investigation revealed that some of these hardcore supporters of Antwerp and Beerschot organised illegal and violent gatherings against rival supporters' teams.
Twelve of the defendants received community service sentences of up to 240 hours, three were sentenced to ten months in prison and the other seven received a suspension. Two defendants were acquitted.
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Not the first time
In May, the court convicted 66 of the rowdy fans from Antwerp and the Dutch Willem II from Tilburg for their participation in such brawls, known as “freefights.”
That case revolved around four freefights between 2014 and 2017 with Beerschot hooligans against supporters of Waasland-Beveren, Genk, Lierse and Antwerp.
Some of the defendants had also taken part in a hit and run on café Wimbledon in Lier, on 13 August 2017. The incident saw a bus of Beerschot supporters pull up outside the cafe and then confront the Lierse supporters inside.