Hungary: our Euro 2020 hosts?

Questions raised over Hungary’s bid to hold football contest as fans celebrate Nazi war criminal


By Valentina Jovanovski, September 18, 2013
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Far-right Hungarian fans watch a World Cup qualifying match against Romania (Photo: Reuters)

Far-right Hungarian fans watch a World Cup qualifying match against Romania (Photo: Reuters)

On the heels of yet another antisemitic incident at a football match in Hungary, the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) has announced that it is bidding to host Euro 2020.

The announcement on Tuesday came a month after a Hungarian fans displayed a banner paying tribute to a suspected Nazi war criminal, allegedly responsible for helping to deport over 15,000 Jews to concentration camps during the Second World War.

László Csatáry — a former Hungarian police officer who topped the Wiesenthal Centre’s list of most wanted war criminals — died aged 98 just days before a banner reading “In memoriam Csatáry László” was displayed by fans of the most popular football club in Hungary, Ferencváros.

The opposing team at that match, MTK, is perceived as a Jewish club and comes up against antisemitism on a regular basis. Ferencváros was fined £2,200 over the incident.

Questions raised over Hungary’s bid to hold football contest as fans celebrate Nazi war criminal

The Hungarian Football Federation said in an email: “The banner concerning László Csatáry was found clearly unacceptable by the Hungarian FF.” The organisation said its strict rules on racism will keep such displays out of Euro 2020, if Hungary is chosen as a host.

“We are ready to organise such an event. The Hungarian FF, alongside the professional clubs, authorities and — what is the most important — the [supporters], must end any racist, discriminative behaviours in the near future.”

Earlier this month, Uefa ordered a Budapest team to play a match behind closed doors as punishment for “racist behaviour and racist chanting” by fans.

In March, the Hungarian national team was also forced to play in an empty stadium after fans shouted racist slogans and displayed offensive symbols during a match against Israel.

Uefa says it does not have jurisdiction over the teams involved in the August incident but critics say MLSZ has not done enough to curb such behaviour.

György Vári, journalist for the weekly paper Magyar Narancs, says the fine imposed on Ferencváros was “not a big amount of money for them”.

“It’s nothing. It’s a sign, a symbol.”

Some have called for points to be deducted from teams with fans who violate rules on racism.

“In Hungary, very few people attend football matches and a significant part of the supporters are hooligans and belong to the far right,” said Ferenc Orosz, an executive member of the Hungarian Raoul Wallenberg Association. In April, Mr Orosz was assaulted at a football match after asking Ferencváros fans to stop chanting antisemitic slogans. Police recently closed the investigation into the attack and no arrests were made.

Last updated: 12:45pm, September 18 2013