Clashes with the police are nothing new. At Euro 2016, Hungarian fans clashed with French authorities ahead of their match against Iceland; similar problems arose in 2013 after a 3-0 loss to Romania in Bucharest.
More recently, fan groups, in particular the black-shirted Carpathian Brigade, have become increasingly emboldened under the current Hungarian far-right party.
In June, the Hungarian parliament passed a law prohibiting homosexuals from appearing in school teaching materials or television shows for those under the age of 18. Shortly after, at Euro 2020, Hungarian supporters were surprised on social media with an anti-LGBTQ banner.
The fact that such a position was taken by fans just days after Hungary’s parliament passed a new law has led some to speculate that the Carpathian Brigade could be backed by the government. Either way, the government has shown little desire to go after fans – and that has allowed the problem to continue.
Earlier this year, Irish players were booed in Budapest for kneeling before a friendly match, with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban calling the position a “provocation”.
“If you are a guest in a country, then understand its culture and don’t provoke the locals,” he said. “The fans reacted like fans usually do if they are provoked, they don’t always choose the most elegant way to do it, but you have to understand the cause.”
There has been an equally sweet response from Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto after England players were subjected to racist abuse last month. He did not tolerate the problems, but instead posted a video on Facebook of England fans booing the Italian national anthem ahead of the Euro 2020 final.
It must be said, however, that the problem is not exclusive to Hungary.
Last night’s game in Tirana between Albania and Poland was suspended for more than 20 minutes due to crowd problems. Albanian fans threw objects at Polish players after opening the scoring, forcing them to leave the field.
FIFA condemned the incident and an investigation is expected to follow.
It is suspected that this will not be the last time the governing body will have to get involved.