Viktor Orbán likes sport. He doesn’t only like sport in general, he generally likes all sports. If he can be said to have a favourite, it’s definitely football. Orbán himself used to play football semi-professionally, in the Hungarian fourth division.
This is not merely to state that sports are simply there to receive increased funding, it goes deeper than that. That which can be taught and learnt through sports is recognised as vitally important for Hungarian society. It is sports that teach children how to deal with defeat, how to lose with dignity, and how to keep on trying, above all. Orbán’s view of sports is that they make up an indispensable part of modern life. Orbán has spoken of his desire to see both the Hungarian football team play in a World Cup final, and for the Olympics to be held in Hungary.
Regarding the latter, the withdrawal of Hungary’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics was the result of an operation to torpedo the bid by a group which then became Momentum, the political party. Momentum preyed on the old, well-worn, disproved fear that Olympics ruined rather than boosted economies, and the bid had to be withdrawn.
And that’s the Left’s attitude to sports. Orbán likes sports. They hate him, and so…they have to hate sports, too. These people seethe whenever Hungarian sportsmen and women do well. Why? Because they see this as increasing Orbán’s popularity.
The governments of Fidesz have been the ones to fund sports to a decent level so it’s only natural that success in sports should be attributed not only to the sportsmen and women who are competing, but also to the governments who made it easier for them to compete.
The Leftwaffe despise sports because they associate sports with Orbán and Fidesz. That hatred extends to those sports organisations which form integral parts of the districts of the capital. Budapest’s 9th district is home to the Ferencvárosi Torna Club, Fradi for short, which has been in existence since 1899. Initially a football club, these days the sports in their stable include handball, water polo, ice hockey, curling, wrestling, athletics, fencing, boxing, gymnastics, synchronised swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and cycling. The jewel in their crown, however, the star in the night sky remains Ferencváros’s football team: Fradi.
The club was first registered not only in the same district, but in the same building where the local council now has its offices. In the past, every mayor and local council member was thrilled to have the possibility of becoming involved with the country’s best. The most recognisable sports organisation in the country.
That’s natural after all, isn’t it? Would Manchester’s mayor reject any form of cooperation with United and City?
In Budapest, Fradi and the 9th district are intrinsically linked. This part of the city and the sports organisation share the same name, for Christ’s sake! Their roots are intertwined! But now this is an opposition-led local council, and they hate sports with a passion which seeks to mirror the enthusiasm for sports that Orbán radiates.
So, when ‘independent-by-default’ Krisztina Baranyi took over, she stated that she considered the earlier agreements between the local government and Fradi as “one-sided”, in Fradi’s favour. She wasn’t convinced that the funding provided by the local council went to youth teams, preferring to believe that this money, too, was funnelled to develop professional sports further.
When Budapest was chosen as host of the World Athletics Championships in 2023, Gergely Karácsony, mayor of Budapest, stated that he would forbid the building of any stadiums in the city until there was a CT machine in every district.
At the end of 2019, there were 43 CTs in Budapest, 20 more than the number of districts.
In much the same manner, with regard to a planned stadium to be built on wasteland in the 9th district, Baranyi declared:
I will block the construction of an athletics stadium with every tool at my disposal.
The plot of land in question is an undeveloped wasteland in a prime location on the banks of the Danube. An undeveloped tip with no infrastructure. And here’s the mayor of the 9th district stating in no uncertain terms that she will not allow this wasteland to be turned into anything that might benefit Hungarian sports.
Sports are seen to reflect well on Fidesz, so of course Baranyi won’t support them.
József Tar, head of the Roma local government approached and secured the support of Fradi and Hungarian national team legend István Szőke in setting up a football foundation to help talented young Roma footballers. The foundation tries to act as a surrogate parent to children with disadvantaged family backgrounds, taking them to training sessions, providing them with kits, and bringing a sense of order to their lives. With Szőke’s endorsement has come assistance from Fradi…training sessions with the team’s coaches and the like, but the mayor is less than impressed. She hates sports as a political motif, and Tar has spoken out about how the Roma fared better under the old, Fidesz management, an act of heresy that the liberals won’t stand for.
Never one to let bygones be bygones, this petty mayor has made her position clear. She recently informed The Guardian of the need for a BLM statue in the district to counter Fidesz’s “systematic” discrimination against the Roma of the district.
Then, when the foundation bearing István Szőke’s name, organised for Roma children by József Tar submitted applications for council funding for the operation of the foundation, they hoped to receive funds in the magnitude of HUF 2 million.
They were granted HUF 100,000.