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.
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.