Language row over new Belgian national stadium
A dispute has broken out in Belgium over the language to be used in the new national stadium just one day after agreement was finally reached to build it, Reuters reported at the end of last week.
The planned 60,000 capacity stadium will be the centrepiece of Brussels’ bid to host matches during the 2020 European football championships and replace the current 45,000 seat King Baudouin Stadium (formerly known as the Heysel Stadium).
The venues are only about 1 kilometre apart, but while the King Baudouin Stadium is in Brussels (which is officially bilingual but largely French-speaking), its planned successor is in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders.
Flemish politicians are indignant of Brussels extending its francophone to Flanders. Flemish Sports Minister Philippe Muyters has stated that language rules must be respected.
“One of the underlying elements should be an agreement on the use of Dutch there,” said Muyters on a television programme last Wednesday.
Language is a frequent source of controversy in Belgium. The 6.23 mn. Flemish majority fiercely protects its Dutch language and culture and is constantly alert to encroachments by French speakers, who comprise some 3.32 mn. of the Belgian population.
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