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EDITIONS
Europe Friday, 19 March, 1999, 14:44 GMT
Belgium's split personality
On the hallowed ground of the pitch at Royal Antwerp FC, Caroline Wyatt and club secretary Paul Bistiaux
In this edition of Crossing Continents, Caroline Wyatt, the BBC's Berlin Correspondent, takes a short trip across the German border into Belgium.


Listen to the programme in full


The World Cup may be over but Euro 2000, Europe's premier football tournament, is being eagerly awaited by thousands of fans. And Belgium, which is co-hosting the event with the Netherlands, is busy renovating stadiums in preparation for the football invasion. For here it's a chance to put to rest the memory of Heysel, where thirty nine Italians fans died in 1985 when a stand collapsed during the Juventus - Liverpool European Cup final. Unfortunately, Belgian football is hiding a murkier secret.

Many young hopefuls want to follow George Weah and play in Belgium
Hundreds of young African players are being imported to bolster Belgian clubs as they fight for supremacy. They're sold the dream of one day emulating the likes of Liberia's George Weah and playing for a top European side. But many don't measure up to their potential and are abandoned and left to fend themselves. International players like Ronaldo change hands for millions, but what price an African player? Caroline Wyatt investigates why so many African players are ending up as unemployed illegal immigrants without legal redress.

As the majority of EU countries begin life with a single currency, best-selling Belgian author Luc Sante takes a wry look at a homeland crumbling along ethnic divides.

Luc Sante's 'The Factory of Facts' - a bestseller about Belgium
In an exclusive talk for Crossing Continents, he explores a land beyond the confines of Brussels bureaucracy and finds French, Dutch and German emotions running high, as language and politics do battle in Europe's youngest state. Luc Sante left Belgium when he was fifteen but has returned regularly to measure the widening gap between the north and the south - between the Flems and the Walloons. His experiences were published in "The Factory of Facts" last year, which has now become the key book to unlock the Belgian character.

In Belgium, as everywhere, this season's colour is...
And as the Summer Collections hit the catwalks of London and Paris we go backstage in the heady, expensive world of fashion. Belgian designers have begun to do battle with their French colleagues and at the moment they are winning. Designers like Dries van Noten, A.F. Vandervorst and Ann Demeulemeester are changing the way we dress. They're all the product of one Fashion School based in the ancient northern city of Antwerp - the Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts. We find out how the new fashion stars are born and reveal that grey is still THE colour!

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 ON THIS STORY
Onze Lieve Vrouwe bells, Antwerp, Feb 99
of Antwerp's Gothic cathedral, Onze Lieve Vrouwe
See also:

23 Apr 98 | Europe
22 Sep 98 | Europe
23 Dec 98 | Europe
23 Dec 98 | Europe
24 May 98 | Europe
09 Nov 98 | Europe
Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


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