Go-Ahead for ‘Greater Hungary’ Football Banners Irritates Romania
Romanian politicians and Romania’s Football Federation criticised the Hungarian Football Federation, MLSZ, for announcing on Tuesday that UEFA had decided that displaying the map of Greater Hungary on flags or banners at matches does not constitute a racist act, so Hungarian supporters will be able to use the symbol at official matches.
The spokesperson of the ruling Romanian Liberal National Party and former Sports Minister, Ionut Stoe, on Wednesday, said the decision would encourage historical revisionism in Hungary, where nationalists are nostalgic for the much bigger pre-World War I borders of Hungary – which included much of modern Romania.
“Such an event would set a dangerous precedent. It would contradict all the principles governing the sport. It would only blow the sails of the extremists who are always fishing anyway in troubled times like today,” said Stroe.
He also said that until UEFA’s position is clarified, he advised everyone to refrain from commenting on something that could “be a story far from reality”, and which would only serve the aims “of those who want tension, division and a weakening of our societies”.
MLSZ issued a statement that it will now allow the use of such flags and banners at matches because it “symbolizes respect for historical Hungary and solidarity with supporters from abroad”.
“Supporters will only be able to display the representative map of Greater Hungary, no other symbols or inscriptions,” MLSZ explained.
The Hungarian national team will host Estonia for an international friendly on Friday in Budapest and Bulgaria for a qualifier on Monday. The MLSZ warned the fans that flags or drapery should not contain any political or racist slogans, or they will be banned.
“Football is not politics”, Hungarian Minister of Finance Mihaly Varga commented on the announcement of the Hungarian Football Association.
Ironically, Varga – who does not belong to the nationalists of Viktor Orban’s government – made his Facebook announcement standing in front of a map of Greater Hungary.
The Romanian Football Federation, FRF, has meanwhile requested an official point of view from UEFA and, shortly after, published the answer on the official website on Wednesday, where it claimed that UEFA had not allowed the historical Greater Hungary map to be displayed at international matches, such as the EURO 2024 preliminaries.
“UEFA has not authorized and will not authorize the display of the symbols mentioned by the Hungarian Football Federation at the matches organized at the European level,” the FRF insisted.
The Romanian Football Federation said that its counterpart in Hungary had made a mistake in making its announcement, as the display of these symbols represents a deviation from the provisions of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations regarding messages with provocative and/or political content. The FRF said it will notify the disciplinary commissions if it is the case.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is known for promoting his nationalist agenda through football both in Hungary and the surrounding countries, where the Hungarian state or business people finance or own football teams.
In November 2022, Orban wore a “Greater Hungary” map scarf at a Hungarian senior national team match.
Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory and one-third of its population – including 3,3 million ethnic Hungarians – under the terms of the harsh 1920 Treaty of Trianon, which followed Austria-Hungary’s collapse at the end of World War I. Many Hungarians still see it as a national trauma.
The lost territories include parts of present-day Austria, Romania, Ukraine, Slovakia, Serbia and Croatia. Romania, Slovakia and Serbia remain home to significant Hungarian communities./BI/