I will be writing today about a family affair. Well, not quite. It started off as a family affair, but by now it has become a scandal of sorts. Start with a father who always wanted to be a professional football player but who was not good enough. When he had a son who under his guidance seemed to be keen on football, he became hopeful: perhaps the boy. Although he produced five children, all the others were girls. So his hopes were pinned on the lone boy.
The father became an important politician of some means who was powerful enough to provide everything necessary for a burgeoning young football talent. He even established a football academy where naturally his son was a student. Because of his powerful connections in the world of football he even managed to get his son on a professional team–his favorite, Videoton. But the boy’s record was not noteworthy. He played in one game, spending a grand total of ten minutes on the field. Otherwise he sat on the bench. The servile pro-government media tried to cast his ten-minute appearance as a glorious performance, which apparently it was anything but.
Of course, I’m talking about Viktor Orbán and his twenty-two-year-old son, Gáspár. Gáspár’s name was of course known in Hungary, but in the last few days he became infamous.
The Hungarian public was aware that Viktor Orbán would be going to Brazil for the World Cup. The public was told that he was going alone and that he himself would pay for the trip. As it turned out, FIFA paid for his trip and he took his son along. That by itself would have aroused those who are not exactly admirers of the prime minister, but when the hundreds of photos taken of the VIP section at the German-Argentine game showed Viktor Orbán and his son sitting right in front of Angela Merkel and Joachim Gauck all hell broke loose. The general reaction was that Viktor Orbán is a boor who does not know how to behave. He should have known that his son does not belong in the VIP section alongside heads of states and other celebrities. Vitriolic comments could be read everywhere.
Gáspár made a mistake his father would never make. He decided to complain to one of the internet news outlets that dared to write about his unusual appearance in the VIP section. And of all places, he picked 444.hu, which is known for its caustic and irreverent style. He practically demanded that the news organ not publish anything about him because he is not a public figure, just an ordinary citizen. 444.hu told young Gáspár that he has been a public figure for some time and that after his appearance on the international scene he certainly is one now. Moreover, newspapers, the editors lectured him, write about ordinary citizens as well.
After this exchange the outrage has only grown and with it the number of jokes and less than complimentary descriptions of the abilities of the prime minister’s son. 444.hu led the way. They called young Orbán “the prince of the Hungarians.” Others followed: “Gáspár or Viktorfi?”
The World Cup final took place on July 13 and Gáspár’s picture appeared in every second newspaper in the world. As soon as he arrived back home he wrote his complaining letter to 444.hu, and two days later came the news: Gáspár at the age of 22 has retired from football. The news was received with astonishment.
It is not clear why he decided to quit the sport. HVG learned that the events of the last few days convinced him that he is not cut out for that kind of “fame.” But I personally suspect that “Viktorfi” had enough of feeling that his football “achievements” are not really his own. Apparently the Puskás Academy’s team has been thoroughly transformed: thirteen players are leaving and nine new ones are joining. Perhaps he realized that without his father’s name he would not have been one of them.
Whatever the case, the media is not any kinder to Gáspár Orbán after his retirement. One sarcastic headline read: “The absence of Gáspár Orbán is hovering over Hungarian football.” Cink.hu called the retiring Gáspár “the Eaglet,” the nickname of Napoléon’s son Franz, Duke of Reichstadt, and what came afterward was a condemnation of the father who put such pressure on his son. “Miserable Gáspár has the country’s most willful sport-daddy, who has the greatest opportunities to fulfill his own ambitions.” Plastic.hu did not feel any sympathy for the oppressed son. If he wanted to be his own man, why did he attend the Puskás Academy and why did he go and sit in the VIP section in Rio de Janiero? Our poor “national martyr.”
Then slowly details emerged. Apparently, Gáspár told his coach after the FTC-Puskás Akadémia game (1-0) that he no longer wants to be a member of the team. A few hours later hir24.hu reported that Gáspár talked about quitting in May while in Uganda where he was teaching children to play football. Gáspár apparently was a volunteer with a relief organization called “Empower a Child in Uganda.” In May this organization put up a photo of Gáspár barefoot like the children with him on Facebook. The text that accompanied the photo read: “Meet one of our New MSTs Gaspar Orban training children in soccer. He is a former professional football player in Hungary who quit the profession after GOD called him to serve his kingdom. He is now blessing the children of Zirobwe village with skills in one of the world’s most loved games.”
So, it seems that Gáspár decided to liberate himself. He just had enough. I wonder when the Hungarian people will decide to follow his example.