As an American living in Belgium, I thought I would share some things I think Americans should know about Belgium’s national football team and the country before we head into the trenches tomorrow in Brazil!
10. The team and country is multilingual, and Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French and German. Dutch is spoken in Flanders in the north of the country and by a minority in Brussels. French is spoken in Wallonia in the south of the country and by a vast majority of residents in Brussels. German is spoken by a tiny minority in the east of the country. The Belgian national football team consists of Dutch and French speakers, but French tends to be the lingua franca among the teammates. Near or all of the team members are bilingual, if not multilingual. Romelu Lukaku, for instance, boasts fluency in Dutch, German, Spanish Portuguese and can understand German.
9. They have multilingual cheering. One of the team’s favorite cheers: “Waar is dat feestje? Hier is dat feestje!” (Where is the party? Here is the party!)
8. They have players with Dutch names who speak French, and players with French names who speak Dutch. Thibaut Courtois and Steven Defour come from Dutch-speaking Flanders, while Daniel Van Buyten comes from French-speaking Wallonia.
7. The team is ethnically diverse. There are players of Belgian, Congolese, German, Martinique, Moroccan, Malian, Albanian, Kenya and Spanish descent.
6. They have great swear words. Some words that you may not (or may) want to shout during the Belgium-USA match. Dutch: kut! (you can probably guess its meaning), klootzak! (asshole), or French: putain! (whore) or merde! (shit).
5. Their youngest player is Adnan Januzaj, who is just 19, and was signed to Manchester United at 16.
4. Their government was shut down for 589! days in 2010-2011. This made the record for the longest a country has gone without an elected government. This government shutdown was caused by Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and Walloon (French-speaking) politicians inability to form a governing coalition.
3. Soccer may be the one thing that unites the country unequivocally. The Belgians are divided by language, culture, parliaments, regions, economics, you name it. But like their mottos this year #tousensemble #iedereenmee, the Belgians are all together in the World Cup this year.
2. They haven’t been in the World Cup since 2002. Belgians have been probably more nationalistic than they have ever been, since Belgium qualified for the World Cup. People are especially excited and expecting a lot of from the team this year.
1. They are beatable. 😉 Happy watching. Good luck USA! Succes België! Bon chance Belgique!