Spanish police on high alert ahead of Spain-Morocco World Cup fixture

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Spanish police on high alert ahead of Spain-Morocco World Cup fixture
Moroccan fans in Brussels on November 27, 2022. Photo: Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD/AFP

After chaotic recent scenes in Belgium, Spanish police are preparing for possible 'public order disturbances' ahead of Spain’s World Cup fixture with Morocco.


Spain takes on Morocco on Tuesday evening in the round of 16 knockout stage of the World Cup in Qatar.

On the pitch, the Spanish team are favourites to advance to the quarter final stage, but Spanish police are on high-alert for potential trouble off it.


Following Morocco’s victory over Belgium during the group stage, supporters of the North African country took to the streets in celebration and a minority of fans caused public damage, including vandalising shopfronts and burning out cars.

Police were eventually forced to intervene and employed water cannons, tear gas and armoured vehicles, and even shut down certain travel lines. Some fans confronted police, and there were at least 10 arrests.

READ ALSO: Where to watch the Qatar World Cup on TV in Spain

However, it should be noted that on the same day in Barcelona over a thousand Morocco fans gathered to celebrate in the Plaza de Catalunya without a single incident.

Nonetheless, these recent events combined with Spain’s much larger Moroccan population mean that Spanish police have deemed the match high-risk for "public order disturbances" in several cities.

In a letter sent to police forces across Spain, the Spanish National Police Directorate warned that "celebrations can lead to disturbances in public order, as has already happened in other countries."

Regional forces have been asked to keep their riot squads in "reserve" for the match, and to "have specific arrangements planned” and act "immediately" in response to any trouble.

Particular police attention will be paid to Murcia, Andalusia, Valencia and Catalonia, where the Mossos d'Escuadra will take charge of surveillance.

In Madrid, the capital "is already within a municipal [police] campaign for the Christmas period from November 24th until after Christmas Eve... made up of around 750 police reinforcements on the busiest Christmas days, as it will be this Tuesday,” a police spokesman said.

Moroccan consulates have called for calm, such as the message sent by the General Moroccan Consulate in Almería that asked the Moroccan community “to show sportsmanship and good manners based on respectful behaviour in case of victory or defeat" and to avoid the “destruction of private and public property.”

According to INE, Spain’s national statistics body, there are 872,759 registered Moroccans living in Spain. 

Any potential disturbances this evening wouldn't be the first that Spain has experienced during this World Cup, however, following violent (and very drunken) scenes between Wales and England fans in Tenerife during the group stage of the tournament.

READ ALSO: How Wales fans swapped Qatar for Tenerife to enjoy a cheap and boozy World Cup


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