Nations League: Hungarian-style ghost game

eIt was actually the perfect day for Peter Goulashi. The Hungarian fulfilled every goalkeeper’s dream: win, keep clean sheets, and keep intensity. But if his face could speak, he would have said: Alas, there are also zeros that are not quite so dense.

“Boooo!” Stadium stadium with a low voice.

It happened before the match started. From the depths of the throat, opponents were whistled at Puskas Arena in Budapest, shouting and insulting them. The English did nothing bad, just what they always do: they briefly got to their knees to send a clear signal against racism.

England international players take a stand against racism +++ before the match

Source: dpa / Nick Potts

At such moments, Peter Gulassi feels like an Englishman. The Hungarian goalkeeper, one of the best goalkeepers in the Bundesliga in Leipzig, is almost invincible in the fight against hatred and intolerance. “Everyone has the right to equal rights, no matter what color their skin is, who they love or what they believe in,” he says. Goulashi was repeatedly the best football player in his country, and his voice had weight. But as soon as he brings it up and criticizes, for example, the restrictions on the rights of sexual minorities in his homeland, he quickly gets caught in the eye of a hurricane or in a storm.

“Why are we being booed?”

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Like English now. Her coach Gareth Southgate asked, surprised, “We get on our knees to teach people something and raise their awareness. Why do we get booed?”

Hungary - England

England coach Gareth Southgate

Source: pa / dpa / CSM via ZUMA Press Wire / David Klein

Gulacsi now used to apologize to Hungary’s opponents afterwards. When Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was insulted from the stands during the Budapest match last summer, the Hungarian goalkeeper went to him after the final whistle and hugged him. UEFA published the photo on the same night and enthusiastically wrote: “Respect.”

Respect is a big word, easy to say and it costs nothing. But it can also be a hollow word that many people laugh at, at least the Magyars pull a supposedly strong Yuefa through the ring like a toothless bear from the nose ring. A bewildering number of boos and whistles were heard against England – considering there were virtually no spectators. Because after fans’ disgusting gaffes in the 2021 European Championship matches against Portugal, France and Germany, Hungary was sentenced to two matches at home without spectators. In plain English: for ghost games, in front of empty ranks.

But, wonder: There were 30,000 fans.

Hungarian children can roar like their parents

Hungarians are good at finding loopholes. UEFA regulations allow children up to the age of 14 to enter the stadium if accompanied by an adult. Since the game against England on Saturday, we now know: Hungarian children can scream like their parents. Anyway, Herbert Grünemeyer imagined it would be even more romantic when he sang his song “Children to Power”. It’s going well:

“Give the kids the order

They don’t get paid for what they do

The world belongs to children

The end of gloom.

Somehow this concept did not work in Puskas Square. England boss Southgate fears Grönemeyer has overlooked the minute details: “It is clear that children are influenced by adults.”

Hungary vs England: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 3

30,000 Budapest fans watched the actual ghost match against England live in the stadium

Source: Getty Images / Michael Regan

It was a farce. An embarrassing distortion comedy. Theater of the absurd. Europe struggles with Budapest’s president, Viktor Orban, dancing on the nose of UEFA and UEFA. Its foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, reprimanded the latter as a ‘pathetic and cowardly’ team after the match’s penalty kick at home, but UEFA does not want to be a villain, and Orban is pleased that they have banned Munich from entering the Allianz Arena in the European Championships Let Hungary shine in the colors of the rainbow against Germany.

“Personally, I would like it to be coloured,” Hungarian Defense Minister Willy Orban said at the time, and where Willy usually has a way – but Prime Minister Orban is the most important, at least UEFA insisted. The right to sexual-political neutrality. “Respect,” Victor must have thought.

Elsewhere, respect is scant, and Englishmen in particular feel inferior again and again. Last September, Judd Bellingham, their talent at Dortmund, and Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling were insulted with the roar of monkeys in a World Cup qualifier in Budapest. FIFA has punished “disgusting behavior” with two ghost matches and a fine of 200,000 Swiss francs – a risk that Hungarians will consider the referee cheap.

Does Gulasci have to apologize after every match?

What is UEFA doing now?

The European Union has a lot on its hands now. He is dealing with a mess at the gate of the Paris stadium before the Champions League final, and he has a serious investigation led by former Portuguese environment minister Thiago Brandao Rodriguez. The question is whether the staff is now enough for investigations in Budapest, and perhaps even to get an update on the Hungarians.

They were originally sentenced to three ghost games, and the third was suspended for two years on probation. Is this test lost now? Is UEFA passing? Is she sending a signal? Or would you rather continue to rely on goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi – that is, to hug the opponent afterwards and apologize?

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