Avoid nuisance fines during the World Cup!

Football fans gathering in public places across Belgium to watch World Cup games on a big screen, should behave well. That is the clear message sent by Interior Minister Joëlle Milquet today. In order to avoid nuisance behaviour, Ms Milquet is advising local authorities to introduce specific nuisance fines (also called GAS-boetes or GAS fines in Dutch).

The Brazil World Cup kicks off on Thursday 12 June. Five days later, on Tuesday 17 June, the Belgian national team are playing Algeria in their first World Cup encounter. Belgium's Red Devils are hot and a major football hype is expected to set in. Belgium also play Russia (Sunday 22 June) and South Korea (Wednesday 25 June) in the first round. 

Several cities and municipalities have plans to install big screens to welcome the big numbers of fans flocking to public places to follow the outcome of the games. Nuisance fines can be imposed on those breaking the football law, explains Jo Vanhecke of the government's Football Unit.

"Belgian football legislation will not apply here, as the games are taking place in Brazil. However, there is the possibility of introducing specific GAS fines based on football legislation. One obvious example could be the banning of Bengal lights. This dangerous type of fireworks is not included in our penal code, but can be included in nuisance regulations."

It will be up to the local authorities themselves to make any decisions about what they will forbid and what will be labelled as nuisance behaviour. The Interior Minister is urging them to take their precautions some 2 months before the start of the World Cup. A couple of years ago, some 30 people got injured when riots broke out in Ghent during the screening of the match Belgium-Turkey.

(archive photo below shows fans celebrating in Brussels after the Red Devils qualified for the World Cup, beating Croatia on 11 October last year).