A shocking videotape has surfaced of the moment a teenage boy was run down on the streets of Montpellier as Moroccan fans rioted following their World Cup semi-final defeat to France.
The boy, 14, was part of a large crowd of what seemed to be Moroccan supporters looting down Rue de la Mosson in the southern French city when they happened upon a white hatchback with a French flag flying out of its window.
The group attacked the car, trying to rip the flag away from its owner when the driver panicked and conducted a sudden U-turn to the oncoming lane and make a quick escape.
Several members of the masses could not react in time and the teenager was sucked under the wheels, sustaining critical injuries. Authorities confirmed he was transferred to a nearby hospital but later died.
Riot police are combating to maintain order as French and Moroccan football supporters clashed in cities across France and Belgium following the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Visuals from the southern French cities of Montpellier and Nice glimpsed fans fighting in the streets, throwing flares at one another and setting fire to trash bins in the streets while cops brandished batons and used water cannons to suppress the unrest.
In Brussels meanwhile, roughly 100 Moroccan fans assembled near Brussels South station, hurling fireworks and other objects at lines of police outfitted in riot gear but dispersed quickly when tear gas was deployed.
Some 10,000 police officers in France and Belgium were gearing up for a massacre on the streets tonight after Les Bleus dumped underdogs Morocco out of the World Cup. Around 2,200 officers, many of them equipped with riot gear, are stationed in Paris alone with police vans and barricades lining the Champs-Elysees.
In France, Morocco fans had been in a celebratory frenzy ever since their team went on its historic World Cup journey, evolving as the first African and Arab team to reach the last four in the global showpiece event.
In some places, including the Champs-Elysees, the supporters clashed with police, destroying cars and shop windows after beating Portugal in the quarter-finals, while supporters ran riot in Brussels when their team defeated the Red Devils 2-0 in the group stage.
Supporters rushed into Paris’ freezing Champs-Elysees on Wednesday after a World Cup semi-final between France and Morocco which for millions tugged at the heartstrings, as ‘Les Bleus’ won 2-0 to reach the final for the second time in a row. They were flanked by hundreds of police trucks securing the area as fans let off fireworks.
Deeply trapped by their colonial bonds and post-war flows of migrant labour from North Africa to France, the two nations share a history that has shaped their identities and their politics and made for a sometimes edgy relationship.
France and Belgium are both home to a large Moroccan community, many of whom have dual citizenship.