The 8-1 loss in Amsterdam and its possible political consequences

I just read that the last time the Hungarian national football team suffered such a devastating defeat was in 1932 when Austria beat the Hungarians 8-2. Actually, the 8-1 loss to the Dutch team tops the 1932 showing. In itself this defeat is a historic event in the annals of Hungarian football. Perhaps more important, it whipped up especially strong reactions because of Viktor Orbán’s maniacal devotion to and the abnormally high government investment in soccer. Anger over the loss quickly morphed into anger at Viktor Orbán and his government. This defeat may well have serious political consequences.

Ákos Tóth, a journalist for Népszabadság, rightly pointed out that “Viktor Orbán’s regime received a deadly blow from the Hungarian national team.” He succinctly explained why. Other failures of the government could be explained away or simply be engulfed in silence as the prime minister tried to divert attention from the country’s troubles by creating enemies everywhere. Inside as well as outside of the country. But “on the field one cannot lie. There a goal is a goal.” Moreover, Orbán made football “the ethos” of his whole administration. He hoped that near-term success in this sport would justify the expenditure of billions of forints the country doesn’t have on soccer instead of on sports in which Hungarians excel, for example, swimming and kayaking.

An earlier editorial by Attila Ballai in Magyar Nemzet gives us an idea of the value the Hungarian political right places on football success. The author, a great admirer of Viktor Orbán the statesman, kept repeating the importance of at least some success for the present government. He emphasized the “responsibility of the players” because the stakes are high. This game, as all others of the national team, is more than a sporting event. It is politically important for Viktor Orbán and all those who believe in him and his government. Ballai doesn’t expect gold medals. A little win would do, so that “people wouldn’t say that they [meaning the government] are doing all this for these guys [who keep losing]. Are you building stadiums for these football players? Are you spending money on them?”

As we know, the Hungarian national team lost the match in Bucharest. That was bad enough. But with their mortifying defeat against the Netherlands they became a laughing stock. And Viktor Orbán lost face and was perhaps even dealt a serious political blow.

Szilárd Devecseri, one of the Hungarian players, after he kicked an own-goal. The mood of the rest of the players was no better.

Szilárd Devecseri, one of the Hungarian players, after he kicked an own-goal. The mood of the rest of the players was no better.

In times of adversity Viktor Orbán remains silent. In this case some of his underlings spoke in his place. One of his spokesmen, Máté Kocsis, demanded that more heads roll. (The coach, Sándor Egervári, already resigned.) Zsófia Mihancsik, editor-in-chief of Galamus and a football fan, suspects that Kocsis couldn’t have demanded resignations from MLSZ, the Hungarian Football Association, without permission from his boss who is most likely after Sándor Csányi, the president of MLSZ and CEO of OTP, Hungary’s largest bank.

Mihancsik accuses Viktor Orbán of using these players for his own political purposes and thus putting an incredible burden on them. She is alluding to the kind of pressure that was so well expressed by Ballai at the other end of the political spectrum. She feels for these twelve players who are practically paralyzed on the field.

When I visited the University of Florida in Gainesville, an American graduate student delivered me to the airport. It turned out that she is planning to write her dissertation on Hungarian sports and politics during the Rákosi regime. I mentioned to her that the first anti-regime demonstration occurred in 1954 when the Hungarian team failed to win the World Cup. Then just yesterday a friend of mine in Hungary reminded me of the same event, underlining the possible disruptive consequences of the latest Hungarian sports loss. Indeed, a small disturbance broke out after the “The Golden Team” lost to Germany. A crowd attacked the coach’s house, and the members of the team didn’t dare to travel all the way to Budapest and instead left the train in secret in Tatabánya.  He also gave me some details of the close relationship between the party leadership and the Golden Team. Mihály Farkas, minister of defense, kept visiting the players in the dressing room just as today’s bigwigs are doing. That kind of relationship may have unintended consequences. On the one hand, it might intimidate the players, as Mihancsik pointed out. On the other hand, failure on the field may translate into failure at the ballot box.

Here are a few comments from right-wing papers. “The chief honcho said that we like this game. These people don’t like the game but that awful lot of MONEY they receive. Here is the result of the work by a bunch of ignorant parasites, like Csányi and Kubatov.” Kubatov, of Kubatov-lists fame, is currently the head of Ferencváros.

“A series of losses, building a stadium in Felcsút, murderers who escape, half a million emigrants, tobacconist shops, giving away land to friends and relatives, the face of Pintér and the stupid head of Balog… This is the true face of the Orbán regime.” “The fish begins to rot in the head. Without this GENIUS all the others would have gone by now  to ….[obscenity follows].”

Someone suggested that perhaps a Hungarian referee could have helped the situation. The answer: “Hungarian referee, then the best! Mrs. Szájer.” Referee and judge is the same word in Hungarian: bíró. Or: “I demand that every Hungarian be given a stadium with a narrow-gauge railway and with that talented coach, Sándor Egervári.” Or: “Why didn’t the chief tobacconist of Felcsút tell the Dutch that ‘Hungary is doing better!'”

“Is this the famous community of working people? They are going to lose the election in 2014 with this attitude.” “I imagine that on Sunday morning the people in the West will read in the papers that according to Viktor Orbán the problem is that the Europeans don’t work and don’t pray. RIDICULOUS!!!! The truth is that the Dutch were playing ball (they worked) while the Hungarians were standing by.”

“I suggest to you, völkisch Scythians, to march on October 23 and demand that it be included in the Hungarian constitution that no Hungarian team can get more then four goals during one match.” “Our prime minister said that the Hungarians are football-wise. Can you imagine if they weren’t?” “You are awfully quiet … I know why, because one cannot lie here. It is not like the games of Fidesz-KDNP. This game is played for goals.”

Viktor Orbán put up a picture on his Facebook page. He seems to be carrying a baking pan containing some unidentifiable food. This page is naturally visited by adoring fans with appropriately fawning comments. On the other hand, some comments were from people who are obviously no fans of his. Most of them remarked on the fact that he is showing food here when “your people are starving, more than 3 million people live under the poverty line.” Or “a lot of people are hungry because of him but the most important thing for him is that he can live in luxury.” Another person asked whether he is cooking here for the starving children. One guy said: “He is celebrating the great victory!”

Meanwhile, as the result of very intense campaigning, more people voted in Baja by 3 p.m. than all day long the last time. That is a good sign regardless of the outcome. More people realize that their votes count.

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Paul
Guest
I’m not sure if the non-football fans on HS truly realise just how awful this defeat was (in football terms alone – never mind the politics). For a start, large defeats like this aren’t very common, especially at international level (unless you are San Marino!). Typically, if a game is high scoring in the first half, you won’t see many (or any) goals in the second half – much to the fans of the winning side’s disappointment. Players tend to ease off, once they are certain of a win, so they don’t risk injury or getting booked. So, for a team to get beaten this badly, they really are rubbish. They weren’t just having an off day or were a bit unlucky, they were quite simply awful. Secondly, they were playing a side that had already qualified and had absolutely nothing to prove. Sometimes this can work against the other side, as the team who have qualified relaxes and plays well, but usually it gives the weaker side a better chance of a surprise win (again, no player is going to run the risk of injury or suspension for a game that doesn’t matter). So, again, to get thrashed like… Read more »
P.I.Hidas
Guest

Will the beneficiary of the reaction to the defeat be the Jobbik?

buddy
Guest

Paul I think the Hungarian team is a shoo-in for the Euro 2016 tournament finals, but only because it’s being expanded to 24 teams, not due to sheer talent alone. If it was still 16 teams, Hungary would have little chance of getting in. But no matter how bad the Hungarian team plays, I think there’s no question that they’re among the top 24 in Europe.

Or at least, that’s what I thought until a few days ago…

oneill
Guest

It wasn’t a mere defeat, it was a national humiliation.
And to nation of pot smokers.

Orbanistan should look to the lessons preached by the Ajax youth academy, the basis upon which Holland’s international success has been built.

Free expression.
Interchangeability.
Taking personal responsibility for your own actions.
Letting the individual free of the constraints of the tactical framework.
Ability not conformity being the watchword.
I have just had a very pleasurable vision of Vik’s head exploding at the very mention of those concepts.

Despite the billions pumped into stadiums and Vik’s personal football academy in Felscut, football in Hungary is well and truly languishing in the sewers.
You can bet your bottom dollar that the Viktator will slime his way out of any possible linkage but if the regime were hoping for any football dividend next year then they were very sadly mistaken.

James Atkins
Guest

This blog rarely gives cause for a chuckle but it did today.

buddy
Guest

Eva, you may be right, but my point is that expanding the European championships to an extra 8 teams is going to bring in a lot of rubbish national sides, so qualifying for Euro 2016 is no longer a sign that your team is any good.

I mean, let’s look at the 16 teams that qualified in 2012: Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Russia, Italy, France, Netherlands, Greece, England, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, Croatia, Czech Republic, Portugal, Ireland.

After those 16, what other teams are there in Europe that are any good? Serbia, and maybe Slovenia. Beyond that, I’m scratching my head as to who else deserves to be at the European finals. Norway? Slovakia? Scotland? Northern Ireland? Belgium? Switzerland? One of the Baltics? I really don’t know, but since they need to find an extra 8 teams, they will have to get them and I figure Hungary is likely to be one of the mediocre teams to get in.

But maybe I’m wrong and somebody who knows more about football could correct me on this…

buddy
Guest

ps. looking at UEFA’s official ranking now and it seems some teams are doing better than I originally thought: Belgium, Switzerland, Bosnia, Romania, Norway, Montenegro and Albania(!) are all in the top 24. Hungary is currently ranked #19 in Europe.

Ron
Guest

buddy: Another way to find out is to go to the UEFA lists. Hungary on this list is currently number 28.

http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/uefarankings/country/

buddy
Guest

Ron – Aha, I’m looking at a different list, FIFA’s ranking of teams within UEFA, which I assumed was the same as UEFA’s official ranking, though clearly it is not. It seems your link is the official UEFA ranking, but here’s what I was looking at: http://www.fifa.com/worldranking/rankingtable/index.html and click on “UEFA”.

Well #28 within Europe is quite low indeed.

tappanch
Guest

Director Robert Alföldi’s speech in Vienna about the lost artistic freedom in Hungary:

http://7ora7.hu/hirek/alfoldi-robert-elveszett-szabadsagrol-es-a-remeny-szinhazanak-lelektanarol-a-burgtheater-konferenciajan

Paul
Guest

oneill :
It wasn’t a mere defeat, it was a national humiliation.
And to nation of pot smokers.
Orbanistan should look to the lessons preached by the Ajax youth academy, the basis upon which Holland’s international success has been built.
Free expression.
Interchangeability.
Taking personal responsibility for your own actions.
Letting the individual free of the constraints of the tactical framework.
Ability not conformity being the watchword.
I have just had a very pleasurable vision of Vik’s head exploding at the very mention of those concepts.
Despite the billions pumped into stadiums and Vik’s personal football academy in Felscut, football in Hungary is well and truly languishing in the sewers.
You can bet your bottom dollar that the Viktator will slime his way out of any possible linkage but if the regime were hoping for any football dividend next year then they were very sadly mistaken.

That would be irony indeed, as the Dutch owe their continuing success to their ‘total football’ revolution of the 70s – which was based on the way Sebes got the Aranycsapat playing back in the 50s.

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

My 9 year old grand-daughter plays soccer in a league in the US that has a rule that no team is allowed to win by more than 6 goals, or else the coach may be subject to a fine. While it’s controversial., the thinking behind it is to prevent high score runaway defeats that might discourage 9 year old kids from ever playing soccer again.

Perhaps such a rule would have lowered the Hungarian defeat to only 7:1 🙂

Kristof
Guest
OT: but an important reminder. The Senate Democrats – as usual – are about to cave in for the umpteenth time to the Republican radicals, all in the name of “compromise”. It is important to watch these events, because it is exactly the same game Fidesz played with MSZP when Fidesz was not in power yet, but Fidesz’ votes were needed for an issue in which a decision required a 2/3s majority to pass. (And this will happen should the current opposition win but lack the 2/3s majority which are needed for practically everything under the new Basic Law.) Fidesz always won. MSZP always caved in. As a general rule, the left always surrenders. So it is fun to watch how Obama, who told many times that he was not gonna negotiate again and not cave in on this issue (spending levels/debt limit), is being forced to do it, yet again. The story is far from over, but Obama thinks he can’t be the president who will be associated with the only US default in history (the history books will not be so subtle to detail the minutiae of the House politics and of course all the Wall Street people… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

Fradi hooligans hit probably a father in front of his son.

http://www.blikk.hu/blikk_sport/egymast-terrorizaljak-a-fradi-szurkoloi-2216051

tappanch
Guest

Background to English speakers:

The Fidesz leadership of Fradi [Ferencvaros, FTC] condemned the hooligans’ open support for the 1944 Kosice ghetto commander, so the hooligans declared a ban on loud rooting for the team.

In the meantime, the prosecutors ruled in favor of the police decision not to initiate an investigation into the hooligans’ huge banner supporting the war criminal.

http://fradimob.hu/index.php/friss/aktualis/item/3837-végleg-lezárult-a-csatáry-molinó-ügye

tappanch
Guest

“the percentage of employed respondents in each country who are thriving, struggling, and
suffering”

Thriving:

Denmark: 81%
Norway: 79%
Netherlands: 68%
Brazil: 63% [!]

US: 58%
UK: 55%
Germany: 47%
France: 44%
Spain: 37%

Italy: 31%
Slovakia: 31%
Czechia: 29%
Poland: 28%

Bosnia: 18%
Hungary: 13%

pp. 114-115

http://www.gallup.com/file/strategicconsulting/164735/State of the Global Workplace Report 2013.pdf

petofi
Guest

The Hungarian Team’s defeat reminded me of the hockey series between Canada and the U.S.S.R. in 1972. Inspite of all the NHL-ers, the Canadian team was no match for the Soviets–they were better conditioned, had a superlative system, and had the best player in the world by the name of Kharlamov (…well, Bobby Orr aside). Once Bobby Clarke hacked Kharlamov’s ankle so he couldn’t even walk, there were still problems. But, when ‘push-came-to-shove’ the Canadian team prevailed. Why? Well, I thought then and do now, that there’s a palpable difference for an athelete playing for his country…and being proud of that country. The Canadian team rose above themselves because they wanted it for Canada. The Soviets, it can be said, were nowhere near as proud of their country. It’s as simple as that. Now, extrapolate that to the drubbing of the Hungarian soccer team by the Dutch.

petofi
Guest

Back a couple of years ago, noone thought that Russia would win the right to host the World Cup in 2018. They won the right. Moreover, at the same meeting, that soccer power–Qatar–defeated US efforts to win the 2022 rights. Ahh, the power of the ‘oil-billions’!

In a couple of days we’ll know if the US debt ceiling will be lifted. If not, the American dollars primacy will be in question.

So, the question is this: have the GOP Reps been subjected to the allure of millions?

petofi
Guest

(Ah Pandarus, Pandarus…even in the technological wonders of today one has to light a match to see the light.)

Louis Kovach
Guest

Dr Balogh writes: ” Then just yesterday a friend of mine in Hungary reminded me of the same event, underlining the possible disruptive consequences of the latest Hungarian sports loss. Indeed, a small disturbance broke out after the “The Golden Team” lost to Germany. A crowd attacked the coach’s house, and the members of the team didn’t dare to travel all the way to Budapest and instead left the train in secret in Tatabánya. ”

From a Hungarian standpoint, where non-government sponsored demonstrations were unheard of, it was not a minor disturbance. Th crowd gathered very fast at the Szabad Nep office and marched to the Rakoczy street, without much ado. When they turned into the Rakoczy street marching toward the Keleti RR Station finally police response arrived and they used their trunchens to disperse the crowd. It took the police about half an hour to chase them into side streets on both sides of Rakoczy street.

petofi
Guest

(Got the name wrong: not ‘Pandarus’ ….but…..)

petofi
Guest

Got it: DIOGENES

Louis Kovach
Guest

Maybe he used a ligter and not a match……

Thomas
Guest

Everybody is missing the point. Hungarian football is in the rise. 8:1 is a direct result of the past8years. Gyurcsany is resposnsible, after all he was Sport Minister! Eight goals for each of the past8years. (Emutnyocev) Once the stadiums are ready, and Vitya Orban is in power for another eight years, Hungary will rise from the dead and will win in Brazil!

1:16 show
Guest

The nexy goal is 1:16.
Extra 8 for the bad 8 Orban years.

“Thomas
October 14, 2013 at 2:02 pm | #26 Quote
Everybody is missing the point. Hungarian football is in the rise. 8:1 is a direct result of the past8years.”

Pistefka
Guest

It’s a minor point, but the railway being rebuilt at Felcsút is not narrow-gauge. It may be referred to in Hungarian as a “kisvasút” but as far as I can tell it would be accurate to call it a “branch line” in English, but not a narrow gauge one, as it is not.
Sorry to be pedantic but you keep writing this, and as a fan of narrow gauge railways it irks me. Also, if any really narrow gauge railway should be re-opened, it should be the one from Kecskemét to Kiskőrős, as that one was one of the longest in the world.

Paul
Guest

‘Minor line’ or ‘branch line’ would be fine (technically a branch line connects to a more important line, whereas a minor line is just a little used railway that may be part of a larger system or may be isolated).

The whole question of rail gauges and loading gauges (not the same thing!) is endlessly fascinating to railway enthusiasts (myself included), but probably of no interest at all to ‘normal’ people!

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