Were the Belgian people actually happy about the Red Devils' victory? We found the answer!

Posté sur by Stijn Jaques

World Cup fever outbreak

The Belgian enthusiasm for the start of the World Cup was pretty moderate. The Red Devils ended up in a fairly easy group with Panama and Tunisia. The only group member that would be a real challenge was England!

As the World Cup progressed and the Red Devils scored some pretty awesome goals, the Belgian World Cup fever started to increase, even amongst the data scientists at 4C! We used TellMi, 4C’s AI platform to extract insights from text, to analyse the sentiment of the tweets in Dutch and English about the Red Devil games.

Looking at the evolution of the sentiment during the Belgium-Panama and Belgium-Tunisia games, we see a great increase in number of positive tweets whenever the Red Devils score! For example for the tweets in Dutch for the game Belgium-Panama in the graph below we see 3 large peaks; one around 18:00 and two half way the second half of the game. Belgium went nuts!


To Win or to lose: that’s the question

After Belgium’s and England’s victories against Panama and Tunisia, they were both guaranteed a spot in the next round. There was nothing much to play for in the Belgium-England game. Or was there? Losing this duel could actually be an advantage. The team second in the group might avoid the big teams on its way to the finals.

As Belgium and England were level on goal difference, FIFA’s regulation states that the fairest team (the one with the least amount of yellow cards) is the winner of the group. England had 2 yellow cards less than the Red Devils, which made them first in the group. So all tension between the so called battle between Belgium and England disappeared.

But what do the Belgian fans think of this? Did they want the Red Devils to lose as well?

Mixed feelings about Belgian goal

TellMi had a look at the tweets in Dutch and English about the Belgium and England game. Overall there was a lot of negativity during the game. Fans did not appreciate yesterday’s poor game. It was slow and there was not much enthusiasm on the field. Fingers were pointed at the FIFA regulation. 19 and 33 minutes in the game, we see the first peak of negative tweets in the Dutch and English tweets (respectively represented by the Belgian and English flag), which was followed by a second impuls of negativity at the end of the first half.


However, just after half time [21:10], the Red Devils scored a nice goal. In contrast to what we saw in the previous Belgian games, a Belgian goal did not lead to great excitement this time. The happiness of the great goal could not damper the negative tweets. Neither could the substitution of Thomas Vermaelen with Vincent Kompany [21:30] curb the negativity. To conclude the game: the Belgian and English fans would have preferred an open battle between the two countries. The small 0-1 victory of the Belgians, could not ease the pain.

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