Trouble could be brewing around this afternoon’s Spain – Morocco World Cup match as Spanish football gangs issue a call to ‘defend Spain’ against acts of violence by Moroccan football fans.

The usually fierce rivals of die-hard football fans from Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, Ultras Ser and Frente Madrid respectively, announced they would ‘join forces’ to protect the streets of Madrid from ‘acts of violence by Morocco fans’.

The ultras of Real Betis have heeded the call and announced that they will assemble in the streets of Sevilla at the Heliopolis one hour before the game.

And the most aggressive football fans in Zaragoza and Valencia said they too will follow suit and congregate in their city centres, ready to confront any ‘violent’ Morocco fans.

The moves were announced on Spain’s largest footballing ultras forum, Foro MDM, which added that ‘this is NOT Belgium, this is Spain’, in reference to the violence that erupted after Morocco’s World Cup match with Belgium.

The match, which sent Morocco through to the knockout stages and Belgium packing after they won 2-0, was tarnished by rioting by an apparent segment of Morocco fans in Brussels and Antwerp who turned over cars, looted shops and even attacked police.

Police responded by deploying water cannons and tear gas and arresting twenty people; 12 in Brussels and eight in Antwerp.

Similar scenes were seen in the Netherlands, where 500 rioters charged police in Rotterdam throwing glass and fireworks.

The Spanish Interior Ministry has put riot police on alert, while the Deputy Operations Directorate (DAO) of the National Police has expressly ordered that “UIP’s (riot control), UPR’s (prevention and reaction) are reserved for this afternoon and evening, and to have specific devices planned.”

The measures are necessary, in the view of the DAO, because of “the anticipation of celebrations that could lead to disturbances of public order, as has already happened in other countries.”

Spain has a large population of immigrants from Morocco, officially at 900,000 but probably much higher, and it is understood that areas where a high number of Moroccan nationals are registered will be watched extra carefully.

So far, Spain has not experienced any trouble relating to the World Cup, but the ingredients for it are assembling for the match, which kicks off at 5pm Spain time. 

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