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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Racial abuse of a steward and violent clashes with police – hooligans bring shame on Hungarian football

Scenes of black-shirted gangs running amok on the Wembley terraces comes just three weeks after Hungary were fined £158,416 and ordered to play behind closed doors by Fifa over abuse against Jude Bellingham and Raheem Sterling in Budapest.

That punishment came on top of a two-match stadium ban followed sanctions already imposed on Hungary by Uefa for racist and homophobic incidents at Euro 2020.

Abuse monitors say the disorder and abuse on the terraces will keep intensifying while the nation’s Far Right leadership effectively condones extremist views.

The driving force for the upturn in trouble is Hungary’s Carpathian Brigade, an umbrella group of various organised groups brought together around 12 years ago.

Their black-shirts suggest they are aligning with the 1920s paramilitary wing of the National Fascist Party, but experts claim not all fan groups who initially signed up were of Far Right leanings.

Now, however, the men who gather behind the Puskas Stadium goal are universally known for their racists chanting. They also organise demonstrations in support of the hardline politics of nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban. who has repeatedly refused to criticism them.

After the abuse of England players last month, there had been little contrite from any politician. Budapest foreign minister Peter Sziijarto even posted a video of England fans booing the Italian national anthem during the Euro 2020 final as he responded to criticism his nation is now facing.

The Carpathian Brigade caused  much of the footballing outrage in the weeks after Orban passed legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality and gender change in schools.

During Hungary’s opening Euro 2020 game against Portugal, photographs emerged on social media showing group members raising banners and voicing their opposition against the gay community. There were also further demonstrations by the umbrella group outside the stadium ahead of France players taking a knee before kick-off during the second fixture. A number of French media reports alleged monkey chants were later directed at Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté and Kylian Mbappé. Fans had also loudly jeered Republic of Ireland players for taking the knee at a Euro 2020 warm-up game.

That was after the Hungarian football federation said it opposed “unauthorised politics” and Orban accused those performing the gesture of “provocation” and backed those booing it.

Meanwhile, during the fixture against Germany, a section of Hungary supporters were pictured displaying a homophobic banner. Uefa had declined a request to illuminate Munich’s Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for Hungary’s match against Germany on the grounds of the gesture having political context.

The anti-discrimination group Fare, which monitors matches for incidents of racism and other forms of discrimination, has repeatedly sent dossiers of evidence around their presence at games in recent years to Uefa.

Neo-Nazi leanings reportedly stretch back more than 50 years, particularly at Hungarian club Ferencvaros. “Football fan society is basically nationalist in Hungary, and we are proud of that,” a representative of the neo-Nazi group Legio Hungaria told Bellingcat in September.

Clashes with police and stewards are also nothing new. In 2013 in Bucharest, Hungarian fans clashed with Romanian riot police after a 3-0 loss. In a Euros qualifier the next year, also in Bucharest, Hungary’s ultras burst through the barriers before the game had started to attack unsuspecting Romanian fans.

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