International scandal: Hungarian soccer hooligans

In general I’m not keen on writing on topics about which I have little knowledge and even less interest. Soccer falls squarely into this category. I have never had any interest in the sport and as far as I can remember I attended only one soccer match in my life, at the age of twelve when I was a guest of some relatives in Vasas, then a small mining village not far from Pécs. Even then I went only because because my hosts took me. In fact, I developed a distinct dislike for the game. This dislike wasn’t even mitigated at the time of the general national celebration of the “golden team” that made soccer history in 1953 by winning against the English for the first time on their own turf.

Yet I have to write something about the soccer madness that causes a lot of violence everywhere in the world. People can be trampled to death at matches, fans beat each other to a pulp in drunken brawls. And here is the latest. A “friendly” encounter between a famous team, the Hertha BSC of Berlin, and the infamous Ferencváros Torna Club (FTC) or Fradi. It was a test match, a friendly encounter that ended up not being so friendly.

The unspeakable behavior of Fradi fans goes back a long way. In the early days of Hungarian soccer there were two rival clubs, the FTC and MTK (Magyar Testgyakorlók Köre or Circle of Hungarian Physical Activists). MTK was established in the 1880s by wealthy aristocrats and Jewish businessmen. Thus it was known as the Jewish club. To this day Fradi fans yell all sorts of anti-semitic slogans at FTC-MTK games. But they don’t confine their bad behavior to matches against MTK.

Emblem of Ferencváros Fans

There is almost always trouble when Fradi plays and its fans show up. These fans even have an association, Ferencváros Szurkolók Szövetsége, which seems to “defend the interests” of the fans. They “negotiate” about their rights and the club’s duties toward them. They want to have a say in decisions. Their latest beef was that FTC changed security guards without consulting with their association. The “fans” were satisfied with the old firm and “with this act the club lost its credibility,” charged the leadership on the fan club’s website. The complaint ends: “Enough of all that lying!” Nice fans, don’t you think? The fan club’s logo is not very friendly either. Although the artist wasn’t the best, one can discover a “turul” (a mythical eagle) clutching a sword, the symbol of the military and the police.

It doesn’t happen too often that a famous foreign team comes to Budapest for the simple reason that Hungarian soccer is bad. Very bad. However, a private company for good money organized a match between Hertha BSC and Fradi. Sports pages were full of anticipation. “Two [Hungarian] legends will face each other” on July 14: Péter Lipcsei is the “legend” of Ferencváros, while another Hungarian, Pál Dárdai, is the “icon” of Hertha. Unfortunately it was not only Dárdai and Lipcsei who faced each other. About seventy drunken, tattooed skinheads attacked the peaceful German fans. That was bad enough, but the attack was accompanied by shouts of “Sieg Heil” and “Heil Hitler.” The German fans tried to “escape,” but before they could two or three were injured.

I found more than eighty articles about the event in German papers. The Bild, the Tagesspiegel, the Berliner Zeitung, the Berliner Kurir, the Berliner Morgenpost–every blessed German paper was full of the story. I read some of the comments by Germans in Der Tagesspiegel, and I must say they were not exactly complimentary towards Hungary and the Hungarians. One of them called the incident an embarrassment for Hungary where on the streets of Budapest Nazis are marching. The person added that it is really a pity that Hungary, which in the early 1990s showed “real potential,” ended up like this. In Bild one of the German fans told how afraid he was for his life. All in all, it was a glorious day for Hungary thanks to the Fradi fans. Of course, the “president” of the fan club claims that the mob that attacked the Germans had nothing to do with the “true” fans. Outside provocation! He has no idea who these skinheads were. But there is another version coming from the manager of Fradi: the fans were angry that the club changed security guards and that’s how they paid the club back.

As usual, everybody is passing the buck. MLSZ (Magyar Labdarúgók Szövetsége), the official Hungarian soccer organization, received a complaint from Hertha but it claimed no responsibility. After all, the match did not take place as the result of an official invitation by the association. It was privately arranged. Then there were the police. During half time the manager of Hertha asked the police officers nearby to help. They refused. Their reasoning was that FTC didn’t hire them to keep order inside of the stadium. No one talks about the role played by the new security guards.

By the way, Ferencváros lost 2-0.


  1. I don’t know why, but my soccer comment went to the wrong place. Sorry.
    I am posting it here again.
    “Nem kivant torlendo”
    Well Eva, today I shall be very strict with you.
    There is no basis whatsoever to claim to be a Hungarian if you disassociate from soc… well, football!
    Not only Orban and BajnaI are active players, but believe it or not, the book publisher and scholar Gyurgyak (a pretty good historian), is also regularly chasing the ball.
    We are talking here true local and national history for Pete’s sake!
    Just for reminder, the Fradi was established and maintained for a hundred years as the object and personification of civic pride of petite bourgeoisie. It was paid for and patronized by the everyday person and was immensely successful for all its history. Some of its players from the turn of the century were national and even international heros. Until, that is, these hooligans and a bunch of corrupt officials ruined it in the last 15-20 years.
    Now, if you look at that logo again, you will see that on the bottom there is that “funny” symbol, a rune of the letter H, the same you would see on the arm band of the “Õrsereg,” and a scarcely vailed substitute for the arrowcross. So, those are the fans of Fradi now-days.But be that as it may, there isn’t and could not be a more glorious way to spend a nice, sunny afternoon then sitting in a stadium and screaming your heart out on behalf of your favourite team and going home in the after-glow, with the friendly throng afterwards, discussing the events of the match with your friends, all the way to the restaurant.
    How sad and how un-Hungarian not to appreciate all that.
    I admit, it was my father, eons ago, who took me to some matches and all this is just a nostalgic memory now. But, who knows, should the opportunity arise, It would be my pleasure to take you out to a match, should you drop by one day. You will be grateful for it for ever, I think.

  2. Thanks, Eva for the Goy bikers link.
    Adding to Sandor’s comments, Kontler (A History of Hungary, pg 361) argues that anti-semitism among Fradi suppoerters reaches back to the 1930’s
    “The rivalry between the two most prestigious Budapest clubs, Ferencsváros Sports Club and the Hungarian Sports Club also assumed a political character on account of the conflict between the former’s following among petty bourgeois and déclassé elements and the latter’s predominantly Jewish middle class background.”

  3. Sophist: “Kontler (A History of Hungary, pg 361) argues that anti-semitism among Fradi suppoerters reaches back to the 1930’s”
    As I said earlier my knowledge of the topic is minimal yet I remember reading something like that myself.

  4. This post confirms it: you need to spend the remainder of your life hiding in a closet. There you can be safe from all the fear-inducing phenomena that lurk in the outside world.

  5. icr, if you have nothing more than an idiotic thing to say, might as well save the effort.
    I for one would be fine without any stupidity of this kind.

  6. Mr Sandor I know I came from the place where the confounded game of association football was invented. But like many other things the world some how has missed the joke.
    I dislike the game as it is basicaly 22 muddied idiots (now paid huge sums of money) kicking a bladder of wind about.
    I used to like Union Rugby when it was 30 gentlemen behaving like barbarians, but then it went ‘professional’.
    To summarise Hungarian football these days, we can’t play BUT our hooligans are bigger hooligans than your hooligans. So I suppose that satisfies the Hungarians ‘Fradi-istas’.
    FIFA the world governing body, for this so called game, has held that the club is responsible for its supporters. No excuses are allowed that’s it!
    Any one for Dwoil Flonking, Wellie wanging or Aunt Sally?

  7. Győr Calling!

    Yes football is an irrelevance – but for the fact it is a magnet for violence and fraud.

    I will keep my contribution short – as I don’t have a low enough IQ to be involved in football – and I too come from the land who devised it.

    I am surprised that the police decided not to supervise the game inside the stadium. In England this is one of the perks of the job – and ensures that the football club contributes to the police costs.

    If they don’t pay, no game. And violence is kept to a minimum for the surrounding inhabitants.

    And there is so much corruption now in the game – and it is only now coming to light – that the sport is losing its integrity – even in England.

    I have to go now. Even if you haven’t – I’ve been overcome by the overwhelming need to yawn continuously for the next half hour.

    And the snow and wind in Győr is an amazing spectacle for an Englishman – huddling nice and warm by a glowing tile stove!

    Palinka’s good too!



  8. Eva You should stick with stuff you know about!Yes Ferencvaros does have Idiotic”Fans”whom are really not fans coz they are going to the Matches only to fight!But There are way,way Worst Hooligans in Germany(Bayern,1908 M ,Hamburg,etc)and in Germany England,Italy Russia,Serbia,Brazil Ppl regularly getting murdered every season.Supporters carry Firearms for Games!You make it out like Fradi Hooligans are the worst on the Planet!And of course when Media gets a hold of a story like this 15 20 drunking idiot becomes “Hundreds of Nazis marching on the streets of Budapest”Germeny has a 100 times more Nazis than Hungary does!Good By Evike!

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