2014 World Cup: Belgium's Flag is Backwards!

  • Goalazo
  • Dante A. Ciampaglia
  • July 1, 2014, 2:25 PM

belgium flag backwards

The United States faces Belgium in the Round of 16 in less than an hour, and when you watch the game you're bound to see a lot of Belgian flags in the crowd. But fun fact! Those flags are all wrong — at least according to Belgian law.

The Belgian flag that flies today has three vertical bars that are ordered, left to right, black, yellow, and red. It has flown that way since 1831, but when Belgium was founded in 1830 (after declaring independence from the Netherlands) the new country's constitution mandated a different color order for the flag: Red, yellow, then black, stacked horizontally instead of vertically.

"Belgium is really the only country in the world where the flag is not literally the order following the constitution," Belgian constitutional expert Jogchum Vrielink told the newspaper De Morgen. Vrielink adds a possible explanation for Belgium's flag differing from it's constitutional description: "In January 1831, someone decided it needed to further mark the difference with the former Dutch invaders and the flag was returned." The Netherlands' flag is red, white, and blue, with color bars stacked horizontally.

So, basically, Belgium's backwards banner is a strange quirk of history. But it's a fact you can impress your friends with during the game today — or use if you find yourself involved in some trash talk with Belgian fans. "Your team might be winning, but at least my country's flag adheres to its constitutional parameters!"

For more World Cup coverage, check out SI Kids' Guide to the 2014 World Cup!

Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

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