Several Brussels metro stations closed during World Cup match, police vigilant

Several Brussels metro stations closed during World Cup match, police vigilant
Credit: Belga/Nicolas Maeterlinck

The Brussels metro and tram stations Anneessens, Lemonnier and Étangs Noirs/Zwarte Vijvers will be closed on Tuesday afternoon for the World Cup match between Morocco and Spain.

The stations will close between 16:00 and 17:30, and are expected to remain closed until about 22:00. In the event of unrest, however, the police may decide to keep the stations closed for longer, a STIB spokesperson confirmed to The Brussels Times.

Additionally, certain entrances to a handful of stations between the centre and Brussels-Central station, and some in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean will be closed, while the other entrances will remain open. Which stations this will concern depends on the situation.

Police presence in Brussels will also be stepped up for the match, similar to last Thursday – despite no major incidents being reported – announced Brussels mayor Philippe Close (PS) on Monday evening. The move comes after trouble broke out after Morocco beat Belgium on 29 November, which led Brussels authorities to increase its police presence to avoid another clash.

Maintaining public order

"During the first match (Belgium-Morocco), on 29 November, the philosophy beforehand, which aimed at tolerating a festive crowd, protecting the Winter Wonders location, maintaining public order and restoring it if necessary, was compromised," said the mayor.

"But on Thursday (during Morocco - Canada) we strengthened our staff. The police, together with the local residents, managed to calm the situation. The same mechanism will be used on Tuesday." Several opposition councillors (MR-Open Vld, Engagés, CD&V, PTB) questioned Close about the riots during the match between Morocco and Belgium.

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Close stressed that on that day, as with all major events taking place within the City of Brussels, there was close cooperation with the other police zones, the Region, the Federal Government, the fire brigade, the medical services, and public transport... Preparatory meetings and briefings took place and debriefings afterwards, he added.

"Thanks to the unity of command and the cooperation between the police zones and the federal police, we were able to contain the incidents on a single avenue with a police force that protected the city centre and Winter Wonders," he said.

"Any case of damage is one too many, and the first victims are the shopkeepers and residents of the Lemonnier district. I will never accept this. There is no excuse for this violence."

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