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Belgium national football team and the Belgian top division have a reputation for playing physically

Football, a sport practiced in Belgium since the end of the 19th century, is the most popular sport in the country. The national association was founded in 1895 with the intention to bring order and organization into the sport. The first game of the Belgian national team was played on 1 May 1904, a 3: 3 against France.

Traditionally, the clubs Anderlecht, Club Brugge and Standard Liège are the three most dominant national teams, all of which have played and / or won one or more European Cup finals. With the exception of Standard Liège and Charleroi, most professional clubs have Flemish backgrounds.

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Both the national football team and the Belgian top division have a reputation for playing physically. This was due to the lack of tech-savvy foreign players allowed to play in Belgium due to legal restrictions. This changed after the Bosman decision, which forced the liberalization of the football player market in Europe. In response, Belgian clubs began to buy unknown players from Eastern Europe, South America and Africa. This had two contradictory consequences. On the one hand, the national team was weakened by the limited ability of the Belgian Aborigines to secure a place in the national team. On the other hand, the Jupiler League has strengthened its status as an entry-level league for players, who then switch to some of the largest European clubs.

In fact, some of Europe's most talented players have played in Belgian clubs, including Yaya Touré, Jean-Pierre Papin, Daniel Amokachi, Antolín Alcaraz and David Rozehnal, who were discovered at Club Brugge. Sunday Oliseh and Victor Ikpeba in RFC Liège; Jan Koller, Nii Lamptey and Aruna Dindane at Anderlecht; and Mido in Gent.

Others who have started or started their careers in Belgium are William Carvalho, Emmanuel Eboué, Romaric, Gervinho, Didier Zokora, Arthur Boka, Ivica Dragutinovic, Mario Stanic, Morten Olsen, Dorinel Munteanu, Andre Cruz, Seol Ki-hyeon, Kennet Andersson, Klas Ingesson, Aaron Mokoena, Michaël Ciani, Nicolás Pareja, Oguchi Onyewu, Rabiu Afolabi, Cheick Tioté, Peter Odemwingie, Joseph Yobo, Ouwo Moussa Maazou, Milan Jovanovic, Ognjen Vukojevic, Ivan Perišić, Nikica Jelavić and Rob Rensenbrink.

Due to the physical nature of Belgian football, he has primarily produced talented defenders. These include Jean-Marie Pfaff, Eric Gerets, Leo Clijsters, Michel Preud'Homme, Georges Green, Philippe Albert, Franky van der Elst, Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen. By comparison, few attacking Belgian footballers have received international acclaim: Enzo Scifo, Jan Ceulemans, Marc Degryse, Luc Nilis and Émile Mpenza.

However, this latter trend is beginning to change, with Belgium producing offensive talent such as Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard, Mousa Dembele, Christian Benteke, Kevin Mirallas, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens.

With the rapid rise in popularity of football in the late 19th century, Belgium created several football clubs. In 1926, the Royal Belgian Football Association decided to introduce the matriculation numbers to differentiate the clubs and assigned a matriculation number to each existing club by registration. In this way, Antwerp was the first to be awarded matriculation number 1. As a result, the oldest clubs in Belgium usually have the lowest student numbers, even though there are clubs that were registered years after their birth and therefore have a much higher matriculation number than expected. Many clubs, especially those with very low numbers, view their matriculation number as part of their heritage and past and feature prominently in their logo or even in their name. When a club dissolves, the matriculation number of that club is permanently removed and lost forever, as the numbers will never be used again.

In case of a merger, the new club has to decide which matriculation number to keep. Normally, the championship starts at the level at which the former club with the same matriculation number should have started the season. Mergers usually keep the matrix of the most famous club alive. However, it has often happened that a club with a glorious past or even (multiple) championship titles had to merge with another, less successful club to survive, often due to financial difficulties. In this case, the matriculation number of the club and the associated honors were lost with the merger. For example, the seven-time champion K. Beerschot VAC had in the late 1990s to struggle with financial difficulties in the third division and merged with the former first division KFC Germinal Ekeren to survive. The new club was called KFC Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen and started in the first division with the matriculation number KFC Germinal Ekeren, but lost the award of K Beerschot VAC. The new club continued to play in the Beerschot Stadium and wore the purple jersey for which Beerschot was famous. Another famous example is the merger of five-time master Daring Club de Bruxelles with RR White in 1973 to R White Daring Molenbeek.

From the 2010s, matrices were sold and traded, with clubs taking over the position in a (higher) series of another club that purchased these matrices to quickly get one or more divisions up. Examples include BX Brussels, which obtained approval for Bleid-Gaume in 2013, with the intention of relocating the Bleid club to Brussels, over 200 kilometers away. The Royal Belgian Football Association has therefore introduced a new rule in 2016, according to which a club may not be more than 30 kilometers from its original location after a takeover.

From 2017, the Belgian association has enforced another rule that allows clubs to buy back their old, defunct matriculation. This was first done by Lyra (Matricule 7776), who acquired the Matricule 52 of the old, defunct Lyra. In 2018, Oud-Heverlee Leuven, the result of a merger of three clubs in the city of Leuven, changed its matriculation number 6142 back to number 18 to honor the glorious past of its eldest predecessor.

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