Galatasaray football fans riot at Ostend basketball match

Some 400 supporters of the Turkish club Galatasaray rioted in the West Flemish seaside resort of Ostend last night.  The fans lit fireworks in the basketball stadium during a basketball match between BC Oostende and Galatasaray and after the match there was a mass brawl.

The problems started before the match that Ostend eventually lost.  The Turkish supporters occupied an intersection and let of fireworks. The disruption continued inside during the game.

BC Oostende’s CEO Jungen Vanpraet says the fans are football supporters, who travelled to Ostend from across Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany with the only aim of causing damage in which they succeeded: “Innocent fans were attacked.  People were pushed down flights of stairs and had to be taken to hospital.  Around 100 seats were destroyed, cabling was torn out”.

The hooligans refused to leave the basketball stadium after the match and continued to attack other fans. When the police intervened a mass brawl ensued.  Police deployed dogs and pepper spray.

Vanpraet says the police were pretty powerless against a crowd of 400: “We’ve never experienced anything like this.  Under Champions League rules were obliged to welcome visiting fans.  We can’t refuse admittance.”

The police were present during the entire match and precautions had been taken.  Visitors were seated in separate sections and were frisked on entry.

“We don’t fall under football legislation” explains Vanpraet.  “There is no structural police support.  We have to organise things ourselves.  We are not used to seeing football fans at a basketball match”. 

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