Home Society Fields (and bars) of dreams. How to watch sport in Brussels
Fields (and bars) of dreams. How to watch sport in Brussels

Fields (and bars) of dreams. How to watch sport in Brussels

by host

Here’s what you need to know to avoid looking like a fool when talking politics in Brussels.

in Brussels

Photo by Stephanie Lecocq/EFE via EPA

This article is part of the Brussels guide special report.

Brussels isn’t a huge sports town like Melbourne, London or Boston, but it’s still possible for fans to get their hit.

Our guide to the city’s sporting landscape starts with football, endorsed by the EU as an important part of the European way of life (just ask Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, himself a big fan of Greece’s Aris FC).

So where to go?

While Anderlecht have been the historically dominant football team in Brussels, over the past few years Union Saint-Gilloise have emerged as the hipsters’ club of choice, while also usurping Anderlecht on the pitch.

Five years ago, it was possible to turn up on matchday at USG’s cute little stadium in the leafy Forest neighborhood and pay at the gate to get in. Now, with USG perennially contending to win the Belgian top division, those tickets are as scarce as direct answers at the Commission’s midday briefing.  

But keep an eye on the USG’s website for individual match tickets and you might be able to find a spot on the north terrace, not far from where the “ultras” section creates a boisterous atmosphere.

If USG are in danger of becoming too popular, you can also decamp to west Brussels to watch RWD Molenbeek, back in the top division — in their ramshackle old stadium — following years in the wilderness.

Expat fans in Brussels, of course, mainly want to follow their beloved teams back home — and thankfully that’s easy to do.

In general, we recommend a couple of Irish bars in the city. O’Reilly’s in the center and De Valera’s at Place Flagey are the best equipped with foreign TV channels. One Scottish football connoisseur and friend of POLITICO even managed to find the lower-league playoffs on the big screen at De Valera’s.  

Some fan clubs congregate in specific bars to cheer on their teams: German fans of Borussia Dortmund and FC Köln both use Public House at Place de Londres as their base; VfB Stuttgart supporters gather in the Wild Geese in the European Quarter; for the Portuguese, there is a Benfica-themed venue on Avenue de la Couronne next to Café Portugal.

Italian supporters, traditionally some of Europe’s most passionate, are spread out at bars and cafés around the city. Napoli fans: Fat Boy’s on Avenue de Cortenbergh. Lazio: Café L’Autobus at Place Jourdan. AC Milan: it’s back to De Valera’s. Fiorentina: the James Joyce near Schuman. Roma: Public House.

Over the past few years Union Saint-Gilloise have emerged as the hipsters’ club of choice | Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

Egg chasers, rejoice, the Rugby World Cup also takes place this fall, held in France and likely to be a huge hit in the Irish bars of Brussels. Top tip: If you’re racing out of the Berlaymont after a busy day of EU bureaucracy, then the Wild Geese should be your first port of call, with the best pub food in the area and loads of TV screens.

If you prefer your sports with wheels rather than balls, then get outside Brussels and Belgium has plenty to offer.

Out in the scenic Wallonian countryside, the Formula One Grand Prix takes place each summer at the Spa-Francorchamps track. In the west, Flanders hosts several elite pro cycling races in the spring, with the cobbled classic Ronde Van Vlaanderen the most iconic.

Even if it rains — a distinct possibility at both venues — you’ll have a great time in the beer tents.

One last hidden gem: Antwerp hosts the European Open men’s tennis each October, which always attracts a strong field of competitors. That one, thankfully, is an indoor tournament so no danger of the weather ruining it.

Source link