The last time I wrote about soccer was on July 15, 2009, under the title "International scandal: Hungarian soccer hooligans." Then the emphasis was on "international." The disturbance made headlines around the world. Last night's outrage was an "internal affair" and therefore it is unlikely that we will read in the international press about the the soccer match between Ferencváros and Diósgyőr that had to be stopped after the 64th minute. Diósgyőr was leading 3 to 1.
In July the trouble occurred at 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 being not so friendly. 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.
Although on the surface the latest brawl doesn't seem to have anything to do with national rivalry, I have the feeling that if we dig a little deeper we may find some xenophobic resentment on the part of the Fradi fans against the team's British owners. It was in February 2008 that the bid by the English club Sheffield United, backed by property mogul and club chairman Kevin McCabe, was finally approved. Everybody was elated because Fradi badly needed money. The new owners promised a new dawn for the ailing, failing Fradi. Fradi had fallen on hard times although earlier they had been national champions twenty-eight times. They even lost their right to play in NB1 (National Championship, First Division) and were relegated to the second division, playing against "obscure Hungarian village teams." The new British owners promised a new stadium and Champion League soccer within three years.
For the time being it is unlikely that there will be a new stadium or a return to the team's former glory. This year's performance was dreadful, and the worse the club plays the angrier the "fans" get. And these fans are not nice. Although the leadership of the fan club tries to convince everybody that they are totally innocent, that their members have nothing to do with anything, time and again incredible scenes take place on the field. The videos show inferno itself. The players were afraid for their lives. The fans of Fradi managed to get on the field while lit "fireworks" were being thrown on the ground and bits and pieces of broken seats were hurled at the police and the players. Because of the smoke one could hardly see anything. If I had been the referee I would have stopped the match much earlier, but he stopped it only temporarily in the hope that after the resumption of the game things would calm down. They didn't.
When I dealt with the subject last summer I looked up the website of these "charming" fans and even then I came to the conclusion that we are dealing here not only with "fans" but with a politically far-right group that is attracted to Fradi. In the earlier blog I said a few words about the history of Fradi as the "Christian" club as opposed to MTK that was supposed to be the Jewish club. That might be the historical reason for the far-right coloring of this group even today. Anyway, I decided to visit the website again, and I think that I managed to find the source of "resentment" by these fans. The foreign owners are not treating Fradi the way this "Hungarian treasure" established in 1899 is supposed to be treated. They send second-rate coaches and second-rate players to Hungary. The local British overseer of the club, Terry Robinson, insulted the fans the day before, according to the vice-president of the fan club. The fans managed to get rid of the first British coach, Bobby Davison, because, naturally, he was no good. According to Terry Robinson, Davison was greatly relieved that "the Fradi adventure" was at last over. Now there is a new temporary coach, Craig Short, but according to the fans, he is also terrible because, after all, Fradi was losing big against Diósgyőr in the first sixty-four minutes. And that was Short's first game!
Thus, as far as I can see, the fans are revolting against the owners, the coaches, and the "second-rate" players whose presence is a disgrace to this fantastic NB2 Hungarian team! Terry Robinson is accused on the fan club's website of using language fit only for a "colonial official." Any criticism of their behavior is unacceptable to the Fradi fans. The fault is with him. Robinson wanted to get rid of the fans but "luckily he didn't succeed." Instead he was forced by the fans to get rid of the coach. The "editorial" on the website written the day before the fiasco ends on a pathetic note: "Talk means nothing, intention is something, the deed is everything. Ferencváros forever."
Ferencváros most likely will have to pay a hefty fine amounting to millions. The question is when the British owners will have had enough of it all. Then the fans might be happy. However, it might also happen that Ferencváros after its "glorious past" that demands greater respect from these lowly Brits might have to fold up its tent. That might not be a bad idea because then there will be no Fradi fan club either, and that would be a blessing.