Saturday, June 28, 2014

Why Belgium Suddenly Sucks

The United States is to face Belgium in the round of 16, and as per tradition in matches like this, it means some trash talk has to be dug up about Belgium so that it can be used during the game. Standard procedure, really; fans go looking for any instance of past or present animosity, be it from war, diplomacy, pop culture or anywhere else.

The problem is that... it's Belgium. Belgium doesn't really have much animosity to mine except that it's The Boring One. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports is left to use that as the trash talk, before wildly flailing for waffle and Jean-Claude Van Damme gags and trying to very loudly ignore the fact that Audrey Hepburn is also Belgian.

And he leaves on the table the person I'd use as ammunition: Leopold II, the king who decided he wanted part of Africa and had what became DR Congo violently ransacked for personal wealth, a ransacking which in all likelihood spawned a domino effect causing much of the other violence in central Africa that you see to this day.

They have a Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, which up until last December made so much of an effort to put a happy face on how Belgium- well, Leopold, really- 'brought civilization' to Africa that it just started making everyone uncomfortable. It's currently undergoing a three-year renovation to turn it into a museum that's more honest about what actually went down.

This World Cup, DR Congo went down in a group stage qualifier that involved Cameroon, Libya and Togo. On Tuesday, I believe that Belgium will go down in a knockout round that involves the United States.

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