Restaurant Le Falstaff on the Place de la Bourse in Brussels was vandalised by football hooligans on Wednesday evening, as surveillance footage shows about 30 masked men throwing tables and chairs through the window of the eatery.
The fight was a confrontation between supporters of football clubs RSC Anderlecht and Young Boys Bern from Switzerland, who are facing off in the European Conference League at 20:00 on Thursday.
"A little before 21:00 yesterday evening, there was a confrontation between supporters of two teams who are playing at the Anderlecht football stadium tonight," Ilse Van de keere of the Brussels-Capital/Ixelles police zone told Bruzz.
"It involved people who were not recognisable, they had a mask on. They caused a lot of damage to the brasserie Le Falstaff," she added. "When the police wanted to intervene, they ran away."
On Wednesday evening, Brussels Mayor Philippe Close attended the scene and the city services were deployed to re-secure the eatery. The owner of Le Falstaff was shocked by what happened, reports De Morgen.
In the meantime, an investigation was launched together with the Brussels South police zone (Anderlecht, Forest and Saint-Gilles), according to police chief Jurgen De Landsheer.
"23 Swiss nationals have been administratively arrested in the meantime," he told VRT. "Based on the camera images, we have also been able to identify a few Anderlecht supporters."
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The fight comes after a previous match between the two teams got out of hand last week in Switzerland. "It is possible that this is some kind of revenge in Brussels. On some Swiss supporters, we even found weapons such as brass knuckles, indicating that they weren't just here for the football match."
There will be an enhanced police presence in the centre all day on Thursday, Van de keere of the Brussels-Capital/Ixelles police zones told The Brussels Times. "But this was already foreseen before yesterday's incident."
"From the past, we know that the chance of incidents after a game in Anderlecht is quite high in the centre, so the reinforced police presence was already foreseen," she added.
Still, for the game itself, no additional measures will be taken by the Brussels South police zone, said De Landsheer. "We are ready for this match and will make sure that the troublemakers of last night will not enter the stadium."
"In the meantime, we are looking at whether we can expel the 23 Swiss hooligans from the country so that they will not be able to follow any football matches in Belgium tonight or in the future."