Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a sovereign state in Western Europe bordered by France, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and the North Sea. It is a small, densely populated country which covers an area of 30,528 square kilometres and has a population of about 11 million people. Additionally, there is a group of German-speakers who live in the East Cantons located around the High Fens area. Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were known as the Low Countries, the region was called Belgica in Latin, after the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, today, Belgium is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of governance. It is divided into three regions and three communities, that exist next to each other and its two largest regions are the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia. The Brussels-Capital Region is a bilingual enclave within the Flemish Region. A German-speaking Community exists in eastern Wallonia, Belgiums linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments. Upon its independence, declared in 1830, Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Belgium is also a member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD and WTO. Its capital, Brussels, hosts several of the EUs official seats as well as the headquarters of major international organizations such as NATO. Belgium is also a part of the Schengen Area, Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy and is categorized as very high in the Human Development Index. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings, a gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 14th and 15th centuries, the Eighty Years War divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces and the Southern Netherlands. The latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and this was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. The reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815, although the franchise was initially restricted, universal suffrage for men was introduced after the general strike of 1893 and for women in 1949. The main political parties of the 19th century were the Catholic Party, French was originally the single official language adopted by the nobility and the bourgeoisie
France, officially the French Republic, is a country with territory in western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The European, or metropolitan, area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, Overseas France include French Guiana on the South American continent and several island territories in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. France spans 643,801 square kilometres and had a population of almost 67 million people as of January 2017. It is a unitary republic with the capital in Paris. Other major urban centres include Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Nice, Toulouse, during the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, a Celtic people. The area was annexed in 51 BC by Rome, which held Gaul until 486, France emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages, with its victory in the Hundred Years War strengthening state-building and political centralisation. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a colonial empire was established. The 16th century was dominated by civil wars between Catholics and Protestants. France became Europes dominant cultural, political, and military power under Louis XIV, in the 19th century Napoleon took power and established the First French Empire, whose subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War, the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, was formed in 1958 and remains to this day. Algeria and nearly all the colonies became independent in the 1960s with minimal controversy and typically retained close economic. France has long been a centre of art, science. It hosts Europes fourth-largest number of cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and receives around 83 million foreign tourists annually, France is a developed country with the worlds sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, France remains a great power in the world, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a member state of the European Union and the Eurozone. It is also a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, originally applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name France comes from the Latin Francia, or country of the Franks
Club Brugge KV
Club Brugge Koninklijke Voetbalvereniging, commonly referred to as just Club Brugge, is a football club based in Bruges in Belgium. It was founded in 1891 and its ground is the Jan Breydel Stadium. Throughout its long history, Club Brugge has enjoyed much European football success, Club Brugge is the only Belgian club to have played the final of the European Cup so far, losing to Liverpool in the final of the 1978 season. They also lost in the 1976 UEFA Cup Final to the same opponents, Club Brugge holds the European record number of consecutive participations in the UEFA Europa League, the record number of Belgian cups and the record number of Belgian Supercups. 1890, Brugsche Football Club Club created by old students of the Catholic school Broeders Xaverianen,13 November 1891, Club recreated The club was recreated. This has since adopted as the official date of foundation. 1892, First board An official board was installed in the club,1894, Football Club Brugeois Club created by 16 old members of Brugsche FC. 1895, Vlaamsche Football Club de Bruges Club created in the city, 1895–96, the UBSSA set up in 1895. and they went to the UBSSA and took part of the first Belgian national league. 1896, Leaving the UBSSA Financially it was difficult for FC Brugeois,1897, Fusion FC Brugeois joined Brugsche FC but they continued under the name Football Club Brugeois. 1902, New fusion Vlaamsche FC joined FC Brugeois,1912, De Klokke They moved to a new stadium named De Klokke. 1913–14, First cup final FC Brugeois reached their first Belgian Cup final,1920, First time league champions The club became for the first time champions of the first division. 1926, Royal Football Club Brugeois The club get number 3 as their matricule number,1928, First relegation A first low when the club was relegated to the second division. 1930, New statute President Albert Dyserynck changed the statute into a non-profit association. 1931, Albert Dyserynckstadion When president Albert Dyserynck suddenly died they honoured him by changing the name into Albert Dyserynckstadion. 1959, Permanent to the first division RFC Brugeois promoted to the first division,1968, First time cup winners They won the Belgian Cup for the first time against Beerschot AC. 1972, Club Brugge Koninklijke Voetbalvereniging The club changed their name into the Flemisch name Club Brugge KV1975,1976, Highest position in UEFA Cup Under Austrian coach Ernst Happel, Club Brugge reached the finals of the UEFA Cup and lost against Liverpool. 1978, Only Belgian European Cup 1 finalists Still under Ernst Happel and this time it was in the European Champions Clubs Cup final. Club Brugge is the only Belgian club that has reached the finals of the European biggest competition,1992, First goal scorer in the Champions League Daniel Amokachi is the first goal scorer in the Champions League
Belgian First Division A
The Belgian First Division A is the top league competition for association football clubs in Belgium. Following the 2015–16 season it was renamed from the Belgian Pro League, contested by 16 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the Belgian First Division B. Seasons run from late July to early May, with teams playing 30 matches each in the regular season, play-offs 1 are contested by the top 6 clubs in the regular season, with each club playing each other twice. Play-offs 2 are contested by teams ranked 7 to 15 in the regular season, the team finishing in 16th place is relegated. As of 2014 the league was sponsored by AB InBev, brewers of Jupiler beer, and officially known as Jupiler Pro League, the competition was created in 1895 by the Royal Belgian Football Association and was first won by FC Liégeois. Of the 74 clubs to have competed in the first division since its creation,15 have been crowned champions of Belgium, RSC Anderlecht is the most successful league club with 33 titles, followed by Club Brugge KV, Union Saint-Gilloise and Standard Liège. It is currently ranked 10th in the UEFA rankings of leagues based on performances in European competitions over the last five-years. The competition was ranked 3rd when the UEFA first published their ranking in 1979 and also the year in 1980. FC Liégeois became the first champion of Belgium, the first 8 titles in Belgian football were all won by FC Liégeois or RC de Bruxelles. There was no promotion and relegation system at the time but the last two clubs of the league withdrew and a new club entered the competition, during the 1896–97 season, SC de Bruxelles withdrew so the 1897–98 season was played among 5 clubs only. In the seasons 1898–99 and 1899–1900, the association introduced a new format with two leagues at the top level and then a final game in two legs. The format though changed back to one league with 9 clubs in 1900–01, in 1904–05 the championship was organised with one league of 11 teams. In 1906–07, Union Saint-Gilloise won their 4th consecutive title as RC de Bruxelles had from 1899–1900 to 1902–03, both clubs claimed the next 3 titles before CS Brugeois won their first title, finishing one point ahead their rival of FC Brugeois. As World War I approached, Daring Club de Bruxelles confirmed its status of challenger, even winning the title in 1911–12, only Union Saint-Gilloise could face them in that period, winning the 1912–13 championship with a better goal difference. Since 1911–12, two clubs are relegated each year to the Promotion and two clubs from the Promotion are promoted, during World War I, the football championship was suspended. It resumed in 1919–20 with FC Brugeois claiming their first title after 5-second places, among which were 2 lost final games, the challengers at the time were CS Brugeois, Union Saint-Gilloise, Daring Club de Bruxelles and Standard Club Liégeois. Starting 25 December 1932, Union Saint-Gilloise had a record 60 games unbeaten run in the championship, winning the 1932–33, 1933–34, the rival of Union during this period was Daring Club de Bruxelles. They claimed the two championships
Cercle Brugge K.S.V.
Cercle Brugge Koninklijke Sportvereniging is a Belgian professional football club based in Bruges. Cercle have played in the Belgian Pro League since the 2003–04 season, the club play home games at the Jan Breydel Stadium, which they share with fierce rivals Club Brugge. Cercle Brugge won their first national title in 1911, and won two titles before the Second World War. The side also won the Belgian Cup in 1927 and in 1985, Cercle Brugge was founded on 9 April 1899 as Cercle Sportif Brugeois by former students of the Saint Francis Xavier Institute, colloquially known as De Frères in Bruges. Originally, the focused on five sports, football, cricket, lawn tennis. Cercle Brugge became a member of the Royal Belgian Football Association in 1900 and were awarded matricule number 12, Cercle achieved their first success in the 1902 Henri Fraeys Cup, defeating Olympique Iris Club Lillois and US Tourcoing. After winning another few friendly cups Cercle achieved their first big success, Cercle ended a single point ahead of their main rivals FC Bruges, after their confrontation on the seasons last matchday ended in a 1–1 draw. Three years later Belgian football was devastated by World War I, former player Alphonse Six also lost his life. Cercle resumed competitive football in 1919 with an almost completely new team, Louis Saeys was the only player to remain in the team from before the war. Expectations were low, but the finished third in the league. The monument still exists and now stands in front of the Jan Breydel Stadium, in 1923 Cercle extended their stadium facilities again, moving 100 metres from their old pitch to a newly built stadium. This ground, later named the Edgard De Smedt Stadium, became Cercles home for more than 50 years, in 1924 the club changed its name from Cercle Sportif Brugeois to Royal Cercle Sportif Brugeois. The club embarked on a period, led by two key players, Belgian record international Florimond Vanhalme and player-coach Louis Saeys. Cercle led the league midway through the 1925–26 season, but player injuries led to results that saw them finish in fifth place. Cercle made a start to the 1929–30 season, entering the mid-season winter break in sixth place. Nonetheless, by the weekend of the season they had narrowed the gap to a single point. The side then faced a wait for the result of Antwerp against 10th placed Standard Liège. In the end, the news reached team captain Florimond Vanhalme that Antwerp had lost 3–5, meaning Cercle had won their third, because of this title Cercle were invited to take part in the Coupe des Nations, which is regarded as the predecessor of the Champions League
Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht, usually known as Anderlecht or RSCA, is a Belgian professional football club based in Anderlecht, Brussels Capital-Region. They have also won nine Belgian Cups and hold the record for most consecutive Belgian championship titles, founded in 1908, the club first reached the highest level in Belgian football in 1921–22 and have been playing in the first division continuously since 1935–36. They won their first major trophy after World War II with a win in 1946–47. Since then, they have never finished outside the top six of the Belgian first division and they are ranked 12th amongst all-time UEFA club competition winners, tenth in the IFFHS continental Clubs of the 20th Century European ranking and were 41st in the 2012 UEFA team rankings. In 1986, they achieved their best UEFA ranking with a joint first place with Juventus Anderlecht have been playing their matches in the Astrid Park in the municipality of Anderlecht since 1917. Their current stadium, Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, was first opened in 1983 and they play in purple and white outfits. They have long-standing rivalries with Club Brugge and Standard Liège and previously with FC Brussels, founded as Sporting Club Anderlechtois on 27 May 1908 by a dozen football lovers at the Concordia café, the club beat Institut Saint-Georges in their first match by 11–8. They joined the competition in 1909–10, starting at the lowest level in the Belgian football league system. In 1912–13, they gained promotion to the level of football. After only one season at level, the championships were suspended due to World War I. With the popularity of the increasing, Anderlecht had moved to a new stadium in the Astrid Park in 1917. They baptized the stadium Stade Emile Versé in honor of the clubs first major patron, at the end of the 1920–21 season, Anderlecht were promoted to the first division for the first time in their history. In 1933,25 years after their formation, the changed their name to Royal Sporting Club Anderlechtois. Since their promotion in 1935, Anderlecht has remained at the top level of football, with Jef Mermans, a striker signed from K Tubantia FC in 1942 for a record fee of 125,000 Belgian francs, Anderlecht won their first league title in 1947. Their success increased in the years as they won six more titles between 1949–50 and 1955–56 and two more in 1958–59 and 1961–62. In the 1960s, under the coaching of Pierre Sinibaldi and then of Andreas Beres, the club won five titles in a row. The star of this team was Paul Van Himst, Anderlecht played in the first European Champion Clubs Cup in 1955–56, and lost both legs of their tie against Vörös Lobogo. They had to wait until the 1962–63 season to win their first European tie, with a 1–0 victory over Real Madrid, for the first time, they advanced to the second round, where they beat CSKA Sofia before losing to Dundee in the quarter-finals
R. Charleroi S.C.
Royal Charleroi Sporting Club is a Belgian football club based in the city of Charleroi, in the province of Hainaut. Charleroi plays in the Belgian Pro League and their current spell at the highest level in Belgian football has started in the 2012–13 season, Charleroi was founded in 1904 and they first reached the first division in 1947–48. Their highest finish was runner-up in the 1968–69 season and they have also twice reached the Belgian Cup final, losing in 1977–78 to Beveren and in 1992–93 to Standard Liège. Sporting Charleroi have a rivalry with city other club ROC de Charleroi-Marchienne. Charleroi play their matches at the Stade du Pays de Charleroi. The stadium hosted 3 group stage games in the Euro 2000 among which the 1–0 victory of England against Germany, Charleroi have been recruiting several French players in recent years, including Michaël Ciani, Cyril Théréau and goalkeeper Bertrand Laquait. Charleroi Sporting Club was founded in 1904 and they received the matricule n°22, twenty years after their foundation, they qualified to play in the Promotion and in 1929, the club changed its name to Royal Charleroi Sporting Club. Rivals from Olympic Charleroi were playing in the first division in the late 1930s, in 1949, Sporting Charleroi finished 4th whereas Olympic Charleroi was 14th. But Olympic took the lead again until 1955 and their relegation to the second division, at the end of the 1956–57 season, Olympic Charleroi had promoted to the first division but Sporting Charleroi finished last in the first division and was thus relegated to the second division. A spell of 9 seasons in the division followed and in 1966–67 Sporting Charleroi was back at the top level. They finished at the place in 1968–695 points behind Standard Liège. In 1974 the first division was changing from 16 to 20 teams, Olympic Charleroi promoted too as they had won the second division right before but they remained at the top level for just one season. Sporting underwent a new relegation in 1979–80 but was five years later. Their best result since then in the first division is a 4th place in 1993–94, in September 2005, the G-14 took FIFA to court over the 8-month injury incurred by Abdelmajid Oulmers whilst on international duty with Morocco. The colours of Charleroi are black and white with a shirt generally striped, the actual ground was baptized in 1939 with a match Sporting-Union du Centre and it was located near the coal mine named Mambourg. In 1985 the stadium was modernized as the club had qualified for the first division. It was then renewed in the late 1990s in view of the 2000 European Football Championship. The name changed on May 24,1999 from Stade du Mambourg to Stade du Pays de Charleroi, during the tournament, the full capacity of the stadium was up to 30,000 seats
Jean-Pierre Papin is a former French professional football player, who played as a forward, and who was named the European Footballer of the Year in 1991. Papin achieved his greatest success playing for Olympique Marseille between 1986 and 1992. He later played for A. C. Milan, FC Bayern Munich, Bordeaux, Guingamp, JS Saint-Pierroise, Papin also played 54 times for the French national team. After a short time as manager of French clubs, he joined the amateur club AS Facture-Biganos Boïen as a player in 2009. Papin was known for his goalscoring, striking ability, and volleys, although Papin played only 31 matches for Club Bruges, he was elected as its best foreign player by the supporters in April 2008. In a 17-year career in many of Europes biggest leagues, he scored nearly 350 goals in over 620 matches, Papin scored 30 goals for France in 54 matches. He played at the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico, where France finished third and his last game for the national team was in 1995. At club level, he played for Valenciennes, Club Brugge, Olympique Marseille, A. C. Milan, FC Bayern Munich, Bordeaux, Guingamp, during this period, Papin was the French leagues top scorer for five consecutive seasons. While at Marseille he won the Ballon dor, awarded to Europes top footballer and he is the only player to win this award while playing for a French club. In 1992, Papin joined Italian giants A. C. Milan for a record fee of £10 million. However, he never established himself as a regular first team member with the due to injuries. He entered as a substitute during the 1993 UEFA Champions League Final where Milan lost to his former club, nevertheless, Papin has kept good memories of his spell in Italy and frequently cites former Milan managers Fabio Capello and Arrigo Sacchi as his models when coaching is concerned. In 1994, he was transferred to Bayern Munich where his season was plagued by injuries. In his second season in Germany he was part of the side won the UEFA Cup against Girondins de Bordeaux. With Bordeaux, he lost the final of the 1997 Coupe de la Ligue against Strasbourg, Papins career ended in 1998 with Second Division side EA Guingamp. Papin was a striker on the French scene but, contrary to many other French great players. He was also part of the generation of French players that came between the Platini era of the 80s and the 1998 world champions boasting the likes of Zidane, Thuram, Henry. It was the period in French football where clubs actually did better than the national team
Jan Anna Gumaar Ceulemans is a former Belgian footballer who played as an attacking midfielder. A prolific goalscorer Ceulemans was well known for his stamina, aerial ability and he is his countrys most capped player with 96 international appearances. Most of his time with Belgium took place under the guidance of Guy Thys and this period saw the Belgium squad record some of their finest results, which include reaching the final of Euro 80 and fourth place at the 1986 FIFA World Cup. His performance earned the nickname Captain Courageous, jan had struck the post during the game. Professionally, he stayed at Club Brugge for 13 years, endearing himself to his country when he turned down an offer from Italian giant A. C. Milan. He remains the football player to have posed with the AC Milan board for the press that never actually became an AC Milan player. After retiring as a due to knee injury, he became a manager at KSC Eendracht Aalst in 1992. He won promotion to Belgian First Division and even a qualification for UEFA Cup and he moved in 1998 to K. V. C. Westerlo where he qualified for UEFA Cup. In 2005 he is back at his Club Brugge where he would be manager for 3 years, for the 2007–2008 season, he returned to KVC Westerlo. He was named by Pelé as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004
Koninklijke Lierse Sportkring, often simply known as Lierse, is a Belgian professional football club from the city of Lier in the Antwerp province. Lierse have won four titles and two Belgian Cups. Lierse is one of the six Belgian clubs to have played in the UEFA Champions League group stage, the club was founded in 1906 and they first promoted to the first division in 1927–28. Lierse was successful in the first division until the end of World War II, at the end of the 1947–48 season, they were relegated to the second division. Lierse enjoyed two spells at the highest level, each time with a championship win. Lierse spent five years in first division between 2010–11 and 2014–15, but currently play in the second division. Lierse play their matches at the Herman Vanderpoortenstadion in Lier. They have yellow and black colours, the club has recently been bought by Egyptian businessman Maged Samy, who also owns KV Turnhout and Wadi Degla in Egypt. The most capped player at the club is Bernard Voorhoof with 61 caps for Belgium, with 30 goals, he is the topscorer of the Belgium national football team together with Paul Van Himst. In 1904, Gustaaf Van Den Roye learned about the game of football in Antwerp and he bought an authentic ball to play the game in his hometown of Lier. The first games were played on a terrain owned by the local graf Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde, local farmers were not pleased and the police had to intervene, who prohibited any further games. The graf was informed of what happened and he asked Van Den Roye to come, on March 6,1906, during a meeting in a local pub called De Roskam a football club was founded, named Liersche Sportkring. Lierse was born and a first board was established, Gerard Quaeyhaegens as chairman, Gust van den Roye as secretary, graf Marnix de Sainte-Aldegonde agreed to become honorary chairman. Two years after its foundation, in September 1908, Lierse became a member of the Royal Belgian Football Association, where it started playing in the lowest tier of Belgian Football. In 1913 the club made its first impact in Belgian football, the club climbed through the ranks of Belgian football. In 1922, after winning a national play-off round Lierse gained promotion to the levels of Belgian Football. Five years after reaching the levels, in 1927, Lierse became champions in division 1 the second tier of Belgian football. In doing so, Lierse succeeded promotion to the highest level for the first time in its history and this first spell in the top tier proved to be very successful immediately as Lierse became champions for the first time in 1932