Tag Archives: Belgium

Canada tops Belgium in opener of Olympic women’s basketball qualifier

Canada’s women’s basketball team survived a scare and held on for a 61-56 win over host Belgium on Thursday at an Olympic qualifying tournament.

Hanne Mestdagh’s three-pointer with 2:05 remaining in the fourth quarter cut Canada’s lead to 58-56.

Canada prevented the Belgians from scoring for the remainder of the game, however, and Kayla Alexander hit two free throws with 10 seconds remaining to all but cement the win.

Belgium turned the ball over on its next possession and Kim Mestdagh was forced to foul Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, who made one of two free throws to give Canada a five-point lead with just seven seconds left.

Kim Mestdagh then missed on a three-point attempt at the buzzer that wouldn’t have been enough even if she sank it.

Kia Nurse had a game-high 19 points for Canada and added two rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Alexander had 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Bridget Carleton and Raincock-Ekunwe had six rebounds apiece.

Emma Meesseman, the 2019 WNBA finals MVP, led Belgium with 14 points and added six rebounds and two steals. Kim Mestdagh had 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists and Hanne Mestdagh had nine points, hitting three of the five three-point attempts.

Canada’s record in qualifying improved to 9-1. They went 5-1 in Puerto Rico, losing only to the United States, then 3-0 in Edmonton.

Canada next faces Sweden on Saturday before taking on Japan on Sunday.

Because Japan has an automatic Olympic berth as host, the Canadians need only to finish ahead of either Belgium or Sweden in the group to be qualify for the Olympics.

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EA Agrees to Remove FIFA Loot Boxes in Belgium

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Electronic Arts opened a can of worms when it added heavy-handed microtransactions and loot crates to Star Wars Battlefront II. Regulators all over the world took note of the kerfuffle and started wondering if the loot box mechanics were akin to gambling. Belgium even decided to make loot boxes illegal, but EA spent months ignoring the law. Now, it’s backing down and will remove the feature from FIFA Ultimate Team and future FIFA titles.

The backlash started in late 2017 when EA started beta testing the new Battlefront with extremely harsh loot box mechanics. At the time, it would take hour upon hour of grinding to unlock heroes and powerful Star Cards. Or you could just pay EA more money for crystals and buy some loot crates. EA eventually removed most of the more offensive aspects of this system, but the damage was done.

Several countries have started investigating the use of loot crates in games to see if they constitute gambling under the law. There is some research that backs this up — people are encouraged to spend real money on randomized items, some of which are extremely valuable. This triggers the same parts of the brain as gambling. There’s even some concern in the UK that an increase in gambling addiction among young people could be tied to loot boxes.

EA has been adamant that loot boxes aren’t gambling. CEO Andrew Wilson claimed it was different because you always get something in a loot crate, and you can’t cash out (at least officially). FIFA Ultimate TeamSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce has been one of the biggest loot box offenders of the past year, encouraging players to pump in cash to unlock rare player cards.

Belgian authorities have been threatening legal action against EA for months, but the company has decided to avoid taking the case to court. It will stop accepting real money for points at the end of the month.

Belgian players of FIFA will have until January 31st to buy additional points, and they will still work for purchasing premium content. However, point purchases stop after that, the only way to earn loot boxes is by playing the game. EA isn’t changing the mechanics of the game, which is going to mean endless grinding to get anything done.

Losing Belgian loot boxes won’t make a big dent in EA’s bottom line, but more significant changes could be coming as other countries continue to study the problem.

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Belgium reckons with its 'brutal' colonial past — by upending the institution that glorified it

Pierre Kompany's grandfather worked for a diamond company in the Kasai region of the former Belgian Congo in the early 1900s, collecting money from local villages in a job that would give the family its name.   

"He would collect payments from all the shops in the village that sold European products," Kompany said.  

"At the end of the month, people were saying, 'Company is coming.' And … the name stuck. He was Mr. Company."

More than a century later, at the age of 71, Mr. Company's grandson has just been sworn in as Belgium's first-ever black mayor.

A former refugee from Congo who arrived in Belgium in the 1970s to work as a taxi driver, Pierre Kompany was elected mayor of Ganshoren, a community of 20,000 people northwest of Brussels.

Despite his historic accomplishment, Kompany is actually much less famous than his soccer-playing son, Vincent, the current captain of the Manchester City club and a former captain of Belgium's national team.

But Kompany's election is, indeed, a milestone in a country accused of allowing racism to fester by wilfully forgetting its colonial past.

Millions of Congolese died under the rule of Belgium's King Leopold II, who ran the Congo Free State as a private enterprise in a brutal drive to exploit natural resources at the turn of the 20th century.

"You have a lot of people in Belgium [who] don't know what happened there," Kompany said.

It is not a required subject on the school curriculum. And when it is taught, it is often a sanitized version. 

Distorted history

The Royal Museum for Central Africa just outside Brussels has long been accused of complicity in perpetuating that distorted history. 

Now housed in one of Leopold's Versailles-like palaces, its roots date back to 1897, when the king built a special tramline so people visiting the World Fair in Brussels could also visit his own exhibition showcasing his colonial exploits. 

He even built a "human zoo" of grass huts inhabited by 267 Congolese brought over to be a part of the display.

Part of King Leopold II's original exhibit at the colonial museum. (Wellcome Collection)

There is perhaps no greater symbol of Belgium's failure to address the dark chapters of its past than the museum, which has maintained its colonialist perspective for all these decades.  

"We have one gallery, for example, with the names of the 1,600 Belgians that died between 1876 and early 20th century in the Congo Free State," director Guido Gryseels said. 

"There's not a single mention about the many Congolese victims of colonization."

Until now.

Gryseels is the man behind a five-year renovation that he insists will "decolonize" the museum in form and message, delivering a more honest narrative to the Belgian public, which got its first look this past weekend.

"That the Congo was not the story of bringing civilization, that it was not a story of eliminating the slave trade, that it was a story of brutal capitalism, looking for resources, looking for profits."

Museum director Guido Gryseels has led the revamping of the museum's look and message. (Lily Martin/CBC)

Leopold's private agents were given free rein in his African empire. They used slave labour to satisfy Belgium's hunger for rubber and other natural resources. Those who fell behind in delivering their quotas could be punished with the loss of a limb, or worse.

That these horrors still feel somehow veiled from ordinary Belgians seems extraordinary.

Gryseels says it is an emotional issue for many Belgians, who will have had relatives who worked in Congo in one form or another over the years, in particular after the Belgian government took over from the king in 1908.

"Many people are very nostalgic about the past," he said. "For many Belgians, our museum is a symbol of the times when Belgium was still a major power, in 1961, one of the richest countries in the world thanks to colonialism. And, of course, now it's gone down." 

Immigration from Belgium's former colonies, which also included Rwanda and Burundi, was not actively encouraged before or after Congo gained its independence in 1960. 

But the Central African community here numbers well over 100,000 people. Whether to engage with the museum as it tries to reform and rebrand itself has been a difficult question for many.

Artist Aimé​ Mpane was initially reluctant to contribute a piece for the museum's revamped rotunda. (Lily Martin/CBC)

Artist Aimé​ Mpane won a competition to design an installation for the main rotunda of the new museum. 

It will serve as a contrast to statues still in place from the old era, portraying colonizers as civilizers, including a golden piece depicting African children cowering at the feet of a cross-bearing missionary.

A statue of a missionary and a young boy at the museum. (Lily Martin/CBC)

Mpane's piece, titled New Breath, is a giant latticework head sculpted from wood and placed over a crown etched on the floor of the rotunda.  

"I [wanted] to create one big piece that will take the place of King Leopold II," he said. "That will replace this story, which links us all, with the good and the bad."

The work also features a plant that seems to grow from the top of the head, in place of a crown, and draws the eye upward. 

"There's always a link between what's on the ground and what's in the sky," he said. "And that's to show the idea of genesis, of rebirth. We can rise above our past and reach something that's ours."

Mpane's work, New Breath, in the museum's rotunda. (Lily Martin/CBC)

Mpane says he initially had doubts about taking part, despite reassurances that proper context would be provided for the colonial statues. 

"But when I started to dig a bit deeper into it, I realized we're really talking about our history and we must try to make sense of it. If we don't take part in it, who is going to do it?"

Return the artifacts

Others say true contrition for the wrongs of the past would require returning all the cultural artifacts taken from colonial Africa now lining the museum's shelves, from ritual masks and sculptures to tribal drums and a wooden canoe carved out of a single log.

The debate in Belgium comes in the wake of a report commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron that recommended the return of thousands of items taken from former French colonies without consent. 

The report, which was penned by the French historian Bénédicte Savoy and Senegalese writer Felwine Sarr, has sparked debate in other European countries including Germany and Belgium. 

The current Belgian king, Philippe, changed his mind and decided not to attend the Royal Museum's reopening this weekend in the wake of the controversy.

Activist Mireille-Tsheusi Robert says the museum should return its colonial artifacts to where they were taken from. (Lily Martin/CBC)

"I think that giving back these works of art is a question of law and justice," said activist Mireille-Tsheusi Robert, who came to Brussels at the age of three with her Belgian father and Congolese mother.

"The original owners whose objects were stolen are villagers, chieftains, whole villages — in short, a country."

Keeping the works of art sends the message: "We vanquished them," she said.

For now, returning the artifacts is a step too far for Gryseels, although he acknowledges the role of the museum in Belgium's failure to see itself as a multicultural society and to reflect the diversity of its population in its public institutions.

"For most Belgians, their first encounter with Africa is through a visit of our museum. If then, in this museum, you get the impression that Africans don't have a culture of their own, that the European view is superior, then you can't be surprised that that has an impact. So we take our responsibility." 

'Only ignorance'

To really change though, the country as a whole must take on that responsibility, many Belgians say. To carry it out of the museum and into mainstream society.

Kompany says he believes his election is a sign Belgium is headed in the right direction.

But he also says the country must work much harder to acknowledge the past if it wants to free itself from it.

"When it comes to history, there is no compromise," he said. "Only ignorance."

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EA May Get Sued Over FIFA Loot Crates in Belgium

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It has been almost a year since the insulting, expensive microtransactions in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 started a backlash against loot crates in games. Electronic Arts was behind the Star Wars loot crates, so it may not come as a surprise that it has been hesitant to remove loot crates from games in Belgium, which decided earlier this year that the randomized loot crate mechanics in games from EA and other publishers constituted illegal gambling. Now, that decision may be headed for court.

The Belgian gaming commission was quick to decry the loot crate mechanisms highlighted by the Battlefront 2 controversy. In April of this year, the country decided that loot boxes that return random rewards in exchange for money count as gambling, and are therefore illegal in Belgium. The Netherlands followed shortly thereafter. Game publishers like Blizzard and 2K pulled the offending microtransactions from their games in the country, but EA seems determined to test the ban.

The firestorm of criticism over loot crates in Battlefront 2 led EA to remove them from the game, but the publisher’s FIFA titles still use loot crates. The loot crates are live everywhere, even in Belgium and the Netherlands. In Belgium, the gaming commission has reportedly referred the EA matter to the country’s public prosecutor’s office, which is investigating if EA has broken the law by leaving loot boxes in FIFA.

EA’s FIFA games sell players card packs, and those packs contain players of various skill levels. EA recently decided to disclose the odds of getting the best cards in these packs, and it uses this as part of its argument for keeping loot box mechanics. EA CFO Andrew Wilson also asserted earlier this year that loot boxes aren’t gambling because it doesn’t offer players any way to sell or cash out their cards for real money. It sure does feel like gambling, though, with some players spending thousands of dollars in pursuit of the ultimate team.

A legal case in Belgium may be exactly what EA wants. If the public prosecutor decides to bring a case, EA will have the chance to go before a judge and argue that loot boxes are not gambling. A favorable ruling could help EA justify the use of microtransactions in future games.

While Belgium is leading the way in fighting loot crates, some other countries have gone in the opposite direction. The US and New Zealand decided loot crates don’t count as gambling, but some US states have started investigations. No legislation has come of it, though.

Now read: Disney May Have Pushed EA to Pull Battlefront II Pay-to-Win Loot System Last WeekMost Gamers Hate Buying Loot Boxes, So Why Are Games Using Them?, and EA Remains Committed to Microtransactions, and That’s Partially Our Fault

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Belgium blanks England to finish 3rd at World Cup

Belgium and England both leave the World Cup happy to have reached the semifinals. Belgium may be a little happier, though.

The Belgians earned their highest World Cup finish by beating England 2-0 in the third-place match on Saturday. Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard scored a goal each.

"These players didn't want to rely on talent anymore, wanted to work as a team," Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said. "Their standards have been magnificent. They wanted to make the country proud, every single Red Devils fan proud."

France and Croatia will play in the final on Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The French beat Belgium on Tuesday in the semifinals, while the Croats defeated England on Wednesday.

Meunier's early goal matched a World Cup record for Belgium by having 10 different players score in a tournament, something only done before by France in 1982 and Italy in 2006.

Both Belgium and England were playing for the seventh time in 26 days, but the Belgians entered the match with an extra day of rest.

Meunier scored in the fourth minute, knocking a cross from Nacer Chadli past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Hazard added the other off a pass from Kevin De Bruyne in the 82nd.

Toby Alderweireld denied England's best chance of the game, sliding on the goal line to clear a shot from Eric Dier.

Room for improvement

England matched its best World Cup result — fourth in 1990 — since winning the tournament for the only time in 1966.

"Today shows there's room for improvement. We're not the finished article. We're still learning. We're still getting better," England striker Harry Kane said. "We don't want to wait another 20-odd years to get into another major semifinal."

Belgium's previous best finish at the World Cup was fourth, but the team outplayed England in the midfield to go one better this time.

The Belgians could easily have scored more, with Pickford making a good save to stop a shot from De Bruyne in the 11th and Alderweireld volleying narrowly over the bar in the 35th.

England made set pieces the cornerstone of its run to the World Cup semifinals and created chances for Harry Maguire and Dier in the second half. Neither hit the target with their headers.

It was the second time England and Belgium met in this year's tournament. In the group stage, both teams had already qualified before Belgium's 1-0 win in Kaliningrad.

Fresh legs

England coach Gareth Southgate made five changes to face Belgium, but Danny Rose and Fabian Delph made little impact while Dier started slowly but threatened in the second half.

Phil Jones failed to intercept the pass which led to Hazard's goal.

The two replacements in Belgium's lineup were more effective. Meunier scored and Youri Tielemans dominated the midfield.

Golden Boot in sight for Kane

England forward Harry Kane is still placed to win the Golden Boot with a tournament-leading six goals ahead of Sunday's final.

Kane last scored in England's win over Colombia in the round of 16. On Saturday, he slipped as he shot wide in the first half, then failed to make contact with Jesse Lingard's cross early in the second.

Romelu Lukaku couldn't add to his four goals for Belgium and was substituted shortly after misjudging a through ball by De Bruyne.

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France vs. Belgium could be a goal-fest in World Cup semifinals

Considering the attacking strength of France and Belgium, there's potential for a goal-fest when the European neighbours meet in the World Cup semifinals on Tuesday.

There was less at stake the last time the teams last went head-to-head at the World Cup, a 4-2 victory for France in the third-place match in 1986. That was the last competitive match between the two countries but there have been eight international friendlies since.

Belgium won two of those, including the last one: an exhibition three years ago at Stade de France when the Belgians took a three-goal lead five minutes into the second half and held on to win 4-3.

With the second-youngest roster at the World Cup, France has shown no fear and advanced to its first World Cup semifinal since 2006 led by 19-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe and a pair of inexperienced attacking fullbacks in Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez.

Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann scored for France, who advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2006. 1:07

"We're not scared of anyone," Pavard said. "We've been confident from the start and we're not asking any questions of ourselves."

Coach Didier Deschamps, who was captain when France won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship, has instilled a steely mentality.

"He motivates the troops with strong words," Pavard said. "We're ready to go to war with him."

Deschamps made bold decisions to start Pavard on the right and Lucas Hernandez on the left. The pair, both 22, have only 20 international appearances between them but are playing with good composure.

Red Devils on the rise

In Belgium, there were doubts about Roberto Martinez's ability to transfer the country's individual talent into a collective force. Fans welcomed his arrival in August 2016 with lukewarm enthusiasm because he'd only recently been fired by Everton in the Premier League.

His tenure began with a 2-0 home loss to Spain, but since then Belgium is unbeaten in 23 games and has scored 78 goals — being held scoreless in only one of those games. With former France striker Thierry Henry as an assistant coach, Belgium leads the scoring in Russia with 14 goals in its five World Cup matches.

Kevin De Bruyne scored the eventual game-winner, as Belgium advances to the semifinals 2-1 over Brazil. 1:13

"He's given the team the desire to attack," French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet said of Henry's influence on the Belgian team. "The forwards go to see him. He's held in high esteem."

Martinez's tactics have stood out, too.

With Belgium trailing Japan 2-0 in the round of 16, Martinez replaced two wide players with two midfielders and they both scored.

Lloris Vs. Courtois

Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and French No. 1 Hugo Lloris could be busy.

Lloris has been criticized during the past year after errors for France and Tottenham.

In France's World Cup opener against Australia, he let a long shot go past him and watched in relief as it hit the crossbar. But Lloris appeared to be at his commanding best in the quarterfinal win over Uruguay, rushing off his line to push away a low cross and later making a superb low save.

Belgium has height and heading ability in defenders Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini.

Courtois entered the tournament as one of the top goalkeepers and has enhanced reputation with an outstanding quarterfinal performance against Brazil.

French striker Olivier Giroud thinks Lloris has the edge over Courtois, his club teammate at Chelsea.

"They're both very good on their line, but Hugo is more explosive," Giroud said. "The best is Hugo. Sorry, Thibaut."​

Hazard, Mbappe headline potent offences

Star forward Eden Hazard is known for his attacking prowess, but he also is an outlet for Belgium's defence. Hazard runs at pace and cuts inside. Because of his quick feet, change of direction and exquisite close control, he is difficult to tackle and this often draws a foul.

While Giroud has yet to score at this World Cup, his ability to hold the ball up suits France's system and allows Mbappe to make runs down the right flank. It also gives Antoine Griezmann space to roam.

"I try to create gaps for my teammates," Giroud said. "It's my unselfish side."

He needs one goal to move ahead of France great Zinedine Zidane. They are tied on fourth overall with 31.

Griezmann has scored two penalty kicks and set up Raphael Varane's headed goal against Uruguay. But he has not shown the form he did when he led France in scoring en route to the Euro 2016 final, when Les Bleus lost to Portugal.

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Belgium survives late scare to knock Brazil out of World Cup

Belgium reached the World Cup semifinals for the first time in 32 years by holding off five-time champion Brazil 2-1 Friday, sending Neymar home without living up to the expectations of being soccer's most expensive player.

Belgium scored the decisive goal on a counterattack just after a corner had been taken by Neymar. Romelu Lukaku surged forward with the ball and Kevin De Bruyne put it in the net to give Belgium a 2-0 lead in the 31st minute.

"This was the biggest test for us," De Bruyne said. "Brazil was so strong in attack."

Kevin De Bruyne scored the eventual game-winner, as Belgium advances to the semifinals 2-1 over Brazil. 1:13

The opener came after a bit of good fortune. Fernandinho's trailing arm inadvertently helped Belgium captain Vincent Kompany's header land in his own net in the 13th minute.

As Belgium lost cohesiveness in the second half and Brazil's changes stirred the team, substitute Renato Augusto reduced the deficit in the 76th with a header.

But it was too late for Brazil to muster an equalizer as efforts to force the game into extra time were thwarted by Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Europe only

For the third time in a World Cup — after 1982 and 2006 — the semifinals will feature only European teams. Belgium and France will meet in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The next day in Moscow, it will be either England or Sweden against either Russia or Croatia. The other two quarterfinal matches will be played Sunday.

Humiliated 7-1 by Germany in the semifinals fours year ago on home soil, Brazil didn't even get that far this time. Just like defending champion Germany and Argentina before them, the Kazan Arena is where Brazil's World Cup challenge ended.

"This is beating Brazil in the World Cup, in the knockout," Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said. "Just treasure it and pass it down in the generations."

Belgium is now on a 24-match unbeaten streak.

There is guaranteed to be a fourth straight European team winning the World Cup on July 15 in Moscow. Belgium, which finished fourth at the 1986 tournament and has never won the European Championship, will hope its golden generation can deliver its first trophy.

"Now we need more energy for the next game," Martinez said, "so let's make sure that we're all together and we're all driving each other to be as good as we can … in the semifinal."

Uncharacteristic defence

With eight shutouts in the last nine games, including three in the four games in Russia, Brazil had the tightest defence of the remaining teams at the World Cup. But it was breached after 13 minutes in Tatarstan. Fernandinho's own-goal ensured for the first time since March 2017 that Brazil was trailing in a competitive match. Unlike then — an eventual 4-1 victory over Uruguay — there was no comeback.

Not when Courtois was proving to be an impenetrable barrier in the Belgium goal, denying Marcelo's strike before the lead was extended.

Criticized for his playacting, Neymar then went down lightly under minimal contact from Marouane Fellaini at the start of the second half. But as the referee started to seek a video review, Neymar appeared to urge him against it. A booking — if he got one for diving — would have ruled him out the semifinals.

But reaching the last four looked an increasingly unlikely proposition. Even after Philippe Coutinho's cross was headed in by Augusto, who managed to evade centre backs Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen three minutes after replacing Paulinho.

"Sometimes you have to accept that Brazil has got this finesse, that quality, and that they're going to break you down, and (Belgium) just refused to accept that. This is something special."

Belgium will be without defender Thomas Meunier for the semifinals after tripping Neymar and earning a second yellow card of the tournament.

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World Cup QF: Both Brazil, Belgium battling bad vibes

​To get past Belgium in the quarter-finals at the World Cup, Brazil has to do something it has not been able to do since it last won the tournament in 2002: overcome European opposition in the knockout stages.

Since beating Germany 2-0 in the 2002 World Cup final, the five-time winner has been eliminated by European sides in the three subsequent competitions. Brazil lost to France and the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and was humiliated 7-1 by Germany in the semifinals four years ago at home.

Fortunately for the Selecao, Belgium has a poor record against South American sides at the World Cup. Not only has Belgium not won any of its games against South American teams in the knockout stages, it hasn't even managed to score a goal. Most recently, Belgium lost 1-0 to Argentina in the 2014 quarter-finals.

The core of that side remains in place in Russia, where Belgium has won all four of its matches, including coming back from 2-0 down to beat Japan in the round of 16 with a thrilling counterattack in the final seconds of injury time.

Everything you need to know ahead of Brazil and Belgium's quarter-final match on Friday. 1:00

Everyone knew about the array of talent running through the Belgium side, from Thibaut Courtois in goal to Kevin De Bruyne in midfield and Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku up front. The main questions following disappointing defeats in the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship centred on the team's character.

That 3-2 victory over Japan was the first time a team has overcome a two-goal deficit to win outright since West Germany beat England in 1970, and the first to do it in regulation since Portugal came from three down to beat North Korea in 1966. It has fueled confidence inside the Belgium camp that it can deal with adversity and make the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1986.

"Maybe it's this sort of match that we needed for the future," said Hazard, the captain.

England hasn't won the World Cup since 1966, but Rob Pizzo shows that the road ahead looks pretty favourable.​ 1:46

Coach Roberto Martinez won praise for his substitutions, with both Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli scoring, the latter with practically the last kick of the match.

"You have to find solutions, you have to find reaction but what you have to find more than anything is the desire and togetherness of a group of players, that they are desperate to perform," Martinez said.

Unlike the game against Japan, Martinez said, Belgium will be the underdog Friday in the quarter-final in Kazan, and as such, should play with a certain amount of freedom.

"I think it's a game that when you are a little boy, you dream of being involved in a World Cup, facing Brazil in a quarter-final," he said, "so from our point of view we can enjoy from the first second."

Brazil coach Tite dismissed talk that his team is the favourite to win the match against Belgium, let alone the World Cup.

"Everything is open, up for grabs," he said.

The winner will play France or Uruguay in the semifinals in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

Romelo Lukaku leads Belgium with four goals so far in the tournament. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Belgium is the competition's top scorer with 12 in its four games, with the goals spread around the team. Lukaku has four but seven of his teammates have scored, too.

Though Brazil has yet to hit the heights on the attacking front, it and Uruguay have been the meanest defences in the competition, conceding just one goal apiece in four matches.

There is a worry for Brazil heading into the Belgium match: The team will be without midfielder Casemiro, who is suspended after picking up a second yellow card in the 2-0 win over Mexico in the round of 16. Casemiro has provided a strong shield in front of the Brazilian defence. One option could see Fernandinho come into the side for a role he is accustomed to playing at Manchester City.

As has been the case throughout this World Cup, Brazilian forward Neymar will likely garner much of the attention during the match, both for his skills and speed as well as his on-field theatrics. Neymar will have to be careful not to pick up another booking as he would miss a semifinal should Brazil prevail. Others walking a tightrope are midfielder Philippe Coutinho and defender Filipe Luis.

For Belgium, defender Jan Vertonghen and De Bruyne are carrying yellow cards as well.

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Belgium caps comeback with last-second goal to move into quarter-final

Jan Vertonghen started Belgium's comeback with a crazy, looping header and Nacer Chaldi capped it by finishing off a 10-second, end-to-end attack in the final moments.

It added up to a 3-2 victory over Japan on Monday that gave the Belgians a spot in the World Cup quarter-finals for the second straight tournament.

Trailing 2-0, Vertonghen scored with a header in the 69th minute that appeared to be a cross but somehow dropped in under the bar. Substitute Marouane Fellaini headed in another from Eden Hazard's cross in the 74th.

Chaldi, who came on as a substitute in the 65th, decided it with virtually the last kick of the game in the fourth minute of injury time.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibault Courtois grabbed a corner kick and rolled the ball to Kevin De Bruyne, who dribbled to the top of the centre circle and passed to Thomas Meunier on the right. Meunier one-timed the ball across the area and Romelu Lukaku let it roll by for Chaldi to tap in with his left foot from seven yards.

Belgium is the first team to overturn a two-goal deficit in a World Cup knockout match since West Germany beat England in extra time at the 1970 tournament. The last team do it in regulation was when Portugal beat North Korea in the 1966 quarter-finals.

"It's a test of character. It's a test of the team," Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said. "You have to see how the substitutes react, how the whole team reacts."

Belgium will next face five-time champion Brazil in the quarter-finals on Friday in Kazan.

Japan led through early second-half goals by Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui, but they couldn't hold on.

Classic match

"When we were up 2-0, I really wanted to score another goal and we did have opportunities," Japan coach Akira Nishino said. "We were to some extent controlling the game, but Belgium upped their game when they had to."

What was expected to be a mismatch ended up being a classic, partly because of Martinez's decisions to send on Fellaini and Chadli as substitutes in the 65th minute.

"In football, sometimes you want to be perfect," Martinez said. "In the World Cup and especially in the knockout stage, it's about getting through."

Belgium, which narrowly avoided joining Germany, Argentina, Spain and Portugal as big-name eliminations, won all three of its group matches and scored a tournament-leading nine goals at that stage.

Japan narrowly scraped through, advancing ahead of Senegal because it had fewer yellow cards.

The Japanese have now lost in the round of 16 three times without ever reaching the quarter-finals.

Four Japanese players fell on their knees in despair after the final whistle. Hiroki Sakai and Gen Shoji were in tears.

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Belgium Decides Loot Boxes Are Illegal Gambling

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Video game publishers have been pushing loot boxes and other microtransactions for years, but the release of Star Wars Battlefront II in 2017 was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Gamers complained loudly and often about the expensive loot boxes and “pay-to-win” mechanics harming the gaming experience. Some even pointed out how similar loot boxes were to gambling, and that got governments around the world interested. Are loot boxes gambling? Belgium has decided that, yes, they are.

Electronic Arts seemed caught off-guard by the negative reaction to Battlefront II during the beta. Players noted that the random loot crates could only be purchased with premium in-game currency, and that means you have to spend money. Unlike many other games, items like Star Cards in Star Wars loot crates could vastly change the gameplay experience. In fact, it would take 40 hours of grinding to unlock some of the most sought-after hero characters in Battlefront II if you didn’t pay for loot boxes.

Several US states and EU countries began investigating loot boxes in video games in the wake of Battlefront II. EA took loot boxes out of the game to assuage fans, but that hasn’t saved other publishers. In the Netherlands, regulators recently decided that loot boxes are a form of gambling and have demanded that such mechanics are removed.

The Belgian Gaming Commission investigated Star Wars Battlefront II, FIFA 18, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In a humorous turn of events, the only game the commission didn’t hammer is Battlefront — EA still doesn’t have any loot boxes in the game. All the others, according to regulators, constitute illegal gambling. Minister of Justice Koen Geens was especially concerned about how children would be affected by loot boxes. Legislation always aims to keep kids from coming in contact with gambling, but loot boxes are all over video games that kids might play.

Belgium is being less heavy-handed than the Dutch, who gave companies until June 20th to remove loot boxes. The Belgian Gaming Commission has requested information from publishers and developers to determine who is responsible for removing the loot boxes. If the industry doesn’t comply, responsible individuals could face up to five years in prison and fines of €800,000. It might take time to pull these elements from games, and doing so could result in gameplay balance issues. The games were designed to have loot boxes after all. Perhaps publishers will think twice about including loot boxes in future games if regulators continue to treat them like a slot machine.

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