Hungarian Football Championship: Another scandal

Unlike me, Zsófia Mihancsik, editor-in-chief of Galamus, is interested in football and therefore notices bits of news I wouldn’t catch.

Saturday was the final match for the Hungarian championship. The Győri ETO won against MTK. This is the first time in 30 years that the team from Győr won the honors. The heyday of Győri ETO was in the early 1980s when twice in a row the team captured the title of Hungarian Champion. After such a long dry spell the fans were understandably excited and decided to make a very nice gesture. Since out of the 30 members of the team 17 are foreigners coming from 10 different countries, they held up a sign saying “Many nations, one team–Thank you!”

Well, some might say that this was a thoughtful gesture, but it wasn’t taken as such by the nationalist football fans. Eventually the organizers of the Győr fan club had to explain that they are “not committed to these countries”; they simply wanted to call attention to the fact that the players come from many different nations. From the apologetic letter it is evident that most of the criticism stemmed from the presence of Romanian and Slovak flags. The fan club’s leaders had to admit that they made a mistake because “unwittingly they hurt the feelings of many Hungarians.” The authors of the letter emphasized that it was only a small number of fans who insisted on celebrating the victory this way and immediately announced that after fourteen years of existence the fan club had folded. Finally, they asked forgiveness “from every Hungarian and fellow fans, but especially from our Hungarian Friends who live outside of the borders of Hungary.”

A group of extremist football fans who call themselves “ultras liberi” led the pack against the Győri ETO fan club. The comments aren’t available at the moment, which is probably just as well. The few Zsófia Mihancsik quotes on Galamus are obscene and mostly abusive, especially when it comes to the Slovaks and the Romanians. There was only one person who took the side of the Győr fan club, but unfortunately his reasoning was based on his belief in the restoration of Greater Hungary under Hungarian leadership. He admitted that he is anti-Semitic and anti-Roma and that he considers “Negroes” stupid, but he saw nothing wrong with the sign of “Many nations–one team” because he believes in a Hungary that extends to the outer perimeter of the Carpathian Basin. “But the players of  these different nationalities (Romanian, Slovak, etc.) helped to achieve the victory of a Hungarian team.” He added that “this is a perfect example of what was going on in Hungary for 900 years when we lived in one country with the Romanians, Slovak Serbs, Croatians, Ruthenians, etc.”

Out of curiosity I looked at the national composition of some of the better known Hungarian football teams, starting with Videoton, Viktor Orbán’s favorite club. Here out of the 26 players there are only 10 Hungarians. As opposed to Győr, where most of the foreigners come from Central and Eastern Europe, Videoton seems to be looking around for talent in Spain, Portugal, and Brazil, although they also have a fair number from the Balkans (Serbs and Montenegrins).  Ferencváros is also full of foreign players, whom Hungarians seem to call “foreign legionnaires.” Out of the 24 players only 9 are natives. Ferencváros’s leadership likes the Brazilians and the French, but Serbia is also represented on the team with two players. The most Hungarian teams are the Loki from Debrecen and MTK in Budapest where the Hungarian players are in the majority.

Nikola Trajkovic who won the game for Győri EOT - www.sport1tv.hu

Nikola  Trajkovic, who won the game for Győri ETO – http://www.sport1tv.hu

I might add that the match’s only goal was by Nikola Trajković, a Serb. The football career of Trajković illustrates how futile it is to think in terms of national teams. He played for several lesser known Serbian football clubs before moving on to the Serbian and later to the Montenegrin national team. He made a little side trip to Greece where he played for the Thrasyvoulus Fylis.

Another player on the Győr team is the Slovak Marián Had, who’s had an even more eventful career than Trajković. He started with lesser known Slovak clubs and then moved on to Brno in the Czech Republic. Soon enough he got a very lucrative job with FC Lokomotiv in Moscow. In 2007 he played in Portugal, and later again in Moscow. In 2009 he played for Sparta in Prague. Now he is in Hungary.

So, what are we talking about? National teams? Forget about them. It is simply business. Hungary doesn’t have the money to get the very best, but they are not stuck in the mud either. If they can’t find competitive Hungarian players the coaches go abroad and get the best they can. It’s time to get used to it.

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22 comments

  1. Most football fans are basically unintelligent and prone to this sort of stuff. This reminds be of Beitar Jerusalem fans setting fire to their own club earlier this year because they hired two players from Chechnya. I believe they still have an unspoken no arab policy because of pressure from stupid right wing fans. “Many nations, one club – thank you.” What a lovely message befitting the beautiful game. That’s what I’ll focus on, not the idiots.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2276537/Israeli-football-club-Beitar-Jerusalem-targeted-arsonists-signing-Muslim-players-sparking-fears-anti-Arab-racism.html

  2. ” It is simply business. ”
    Yes, that’s one side of it, there are millions of €s or $s spent – the other is this horrendous stupidity, racism etc of the fans …

    Why is it that football attracts the most aggressive personalities ?

    For me it’s an unwritten law: Never mingle with football fans, don’t even try to talk to them, they are the scum of the earth (of course not all of them, but far too many).
    And this seems to be an international phenomenon, England, France, Spain, Italy come to mind but of course also Germany – nowadays especially Eastern German clubs where you find a lot of racists and even open Nazis!

    Not too much OT:

    More than 30 years ago we were on holiday in the Canary islands and in a bar we “met” a group of drunk German football fans singing Nazi songs – I almost had an altercation with them, but decided to leave. I might have gotten seriously hurt …

  3. A bit OT:

    Eva, seems that a lot of spammers found a way to your site. Can’t you do anything there ?

  4. Dan :
    Most football fans are basically unintelligent and prone to this sort of stuff.

    Agreed (with the possible modification that this is mostly true for football hooligans or “ultras” rather than ordinary football fans). But the point is well made. This sort of thing is not limited to Hungarian football ultras but is quite common everywhere where football is played today, unfortunately.

  5. wolfi :

    A bit OT:

    Eva, seems that a lot of spammers found a way to your site. Can’t you do anything there ?

    Wolfi, You have no idea how many spams are actually caught by WordPress. Since yesterday 147!!! I dutifully get rid of them daily. If I miss a couple of day I am faced with 300-400 spams I have to get rid of. The few which are not caught unfortunately appear among the comments for a while. Mostly during the night when I’m asleep. However, during the day I immediately get rid of them.

  6. Tyrker :

    This sort of thing is not limited to Hungarian football ultras but is quite common everywhere where football is played today, unfortunately.

    I often wonder what it is in football that brings out such behavior in some people. Is there any other sport that causes some people to behave like animals? I can’t think of any other.

  7. Even in the golden age of Hungarian football, the national team was not purely Hungarian. Puskás was of Schwabian origin, Lóránt, Lantos ‘magyarized’ their Slavic sounding names. Bozsik is hardly an ‘echt’ Hungarian name, and so on. On the Diósgyőri DVTK team, there are at least two African players. That seems to be the trend now.

  8. The business of soccer has undergone tremendous transformation lately. Teams employ the best talents they can afford, regardless of the nationality of the player. The just concluded Championship final or even a cursory look at the teams of the Premier League or the Bundesliga shows convincingly that the nationality of the players do not reflect the country of the clubs themselves. This is hardly scandalous, it is a reflection of the times.

  9. Dear Eva, I guess football is simply used in Hungary as a valve allowing ‘fans’ to vent their anger and frustration. Also the most regular, most aggressive ones can be controlled (like with Ferencváros). It’s the circus (from panem and circenses) for the modern man.

  10. PLas :

    Dear Eva, I guess football is simply used in Hungary as a valve allowing ‘fans’ to vent their anger and frustration.

    Sure, but as was rightly pointed out not just in frustrated Hungary but everywhere with the possible exception of the United States and Canada where it is not a widely played game.

  11. The scandal starts when “Fans” throw bananas at a black player and shout antisemitic slogans at another …
    Whether you call them Ultras, Hooligans or fans – they’re just idiots!

  12. Well, let’s examine this.
    Plainly, it’s the venting of anger. Secondly, one is lost in the crowd and therefore it is anonymous, hence no responsibility can be attached. One is much more likely to be found out and shown up at a basketball game than at a soccer game.

    One might’ve found the same at a rugby contest except that the best players, traditionally, are the dark-skinned Maoris from New Zealand. Along this line of thinking, I don’t think that Pele ever came in for abuse (banana throwing), but I’m not sure.

  13. Eva S. Balogh :

    wolfi :
    A bit OT:
    Eva, seems that a lot of spammers found a way to your site. Can’t you do anything there ?

    Wolfi, You have no idea how many spams are actually caught by WordPress. Since yesterday 147!!! I dutifully get rid of them daily. If I miss a couple of day I am faced with 300-400 spams I have to get rid of. The few which are not caught unfortunately appear among the comments for a while. Mostly during the night when I’m asleep. However, during the day I immediately get rid of them.

    Google rankings favor older posts (more connections) and hence blog spam. I think you can safely turn off comments for the older posts and that will cut down on spam.

  14. Whilst it is true that racism (and several other kinds of anti-social isms) remains a problem below the surface in western European football, the difference is the attitude of the football authorities towards there at the merest hint of dodgy chant or even insult from a player.

    In contrast, in Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Poland, Croatia and the Ukraine the racist hooligans thrive on official indifference and sometimes connivance towards their activities. Racists openly abuse and attack English under 21 players in Belgrade, the Serbian FA whinge when they get punished by UEFA. Anti-semites allowed to run amok when Israel visit Hungary, the Hungarian FA is raging when UEFA closes their ground.

    If racism can be, to all intents and purposes, removed from English and German grounds then it can also be from Hungarian, Romanian and Serbian etc grounds, it is just the will isn’t there from the authorities to do the necessary against the scum.

  15. @oneill

    “…it is just the will isn’t there from the authorities..”

    Or, let’s put it another way: the will is there from the authorities but they secretly side with the hooligans. Isn’t Fradi a good example of this?

  16. @ A question for the economists in the crowd:

    Today the euro went below 286.
    Are there sound economic reasons, or this just another example of Hungarian cleverness in gouging the coming tourists?

  17. Petöfi, how do you think does “Hungarian cleverness” affect the exchange rate? Do you think Matolcsy spends his euro reserves not to finance football stadiums or the refurbishment of Kossuth ter but to prop up the forint…? That I would call hyper-clever!

  18. @Kirsten

    ‘Hungarian clever’ as in: “Ahh, the tourists are coming…let’s make them spend more euros/give less forints.”

    Like that. Or, do you think this government is above such hijinks?

  19. This strengthening of the Forint also seems mysterious to me. Couldn’t find any concrete info on the usual business sites, just that the Central Bank again reduced the interest rate, so we’ll have to wait and see whether this is permanent …

  20. I never fail to be amused by how sport teams became anything but a country’s team. It is true for almost every sports and for every country (nation) by now. How many sport immigrants allowed to jump the line for citizenship in many countries to become instants Olympians in an other nation’s colour? Look at the Hungarian kayakers, the US soccer teams, the Canadian hockey teams, gymnasts, and so forth. With a few exceptions today’s sportsman are not in for the glory of their country, as they are able to switch their country easier then find a new private school for their children, but for their own economical benefit. I do not blame them, I am just pointing out that the teary moments of players when the flags are raised looks so fake to me. I very much stopped watching sport events. Now, with competitive sport transferring into something that it was not 20+ years ago, no wonder that those who are already received some “nationalist” blood transfusions will feel mad for the employing foreign players. Most of those nationalists are the only thing that is going for them and goes in their lives is this “national pride”….

  21. London Calling!

    Paul – I don’t think you should read the above comments, the “I don’t have a low enough IQ” has gone beyond a joke!

    Totally agree with most of the above – and only now is it becoming clear how much corruption there is in ‘the business’ – totally suited, of course, to Orban’s way of doing things.

    The best thing about ETO park was the Sunday Market – I say ‘was’ because they can ‘smell’ if you are foreign and rip you off mercilessly. But I did get a fine clock.

    I have to go now – my football ennui detector has reduced my oxygen flow and I have found it difficult to hit he ‘Post Comment’ button between yawns……..

    Regards

    Charlie

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