Hungary Magyarorszag CONIFA World Cup

Karpatalya vs Szekely Land Report and Interview With Béla Fejér

Karpatalya were crowned CONIFA World Champions on Saturday after a penalty shootout victory over Northern Cyprus, but it was their game vs Szekely Land on Thursday night that will live longest in the memory. Tamas Cserep was there

It was in a small local ground nestled behind a row of detached houses, on a Thursday afternoon in the sleepy South London suburb of Carshalton, that the two semi-finals of the ConIFA World Cup would take place. An independent tournament set up for teams representing unrecognised territories and minorities, the competition would first see Northern Cyprus take on Padania, whilst the second match would be a derby pitting together the ethnically Hungarian minorities of Ukraine and Romania – Kárpátalja and Székely Land respectively.

The first fixture was a close-run affair, but Northern Cyprus’ quality shone through in the latter stages of the game; goals from Turan and former Ireland U21 international Mehmet turned the match around from 2-1 to 3-2, sealing their qualification to the final. London’s Turkish diaspora were in full voice throughout the match, and just like in previous games, they created a fiery atmosphere.

The Kárpátalja and Székely Land fixture was a unique one as both teams represent a Hungarian minority group. Fans found it difficult to choose which side to support, but Székely Land chants became more dominant as Hungarians of this area are more common in London than Hungarians of Kárpátalja, who originate from Ukraine.  Throughout the match Székely Land created a lot more chances, but failed to capitalise. On the other hand, Kárpátalja were patient and much more clinical and by the 75th minute they were 3-0 up. There was a late resurgence by Székely Land in in the last 15 minutes, scoring two goals in quick succession, but a counter in extra time allowed Peres to slot home, securing a 4-2 victory for Kárpátalja.

Amidst the clouds of red, white and green created by the flares, the fans were singing traditional Hungarian folk songs and chants. After the game finished, Székely Land fans congratulated Kárpátalja for their triumph and both teams and fans sang the Hungarian national anthem together. This was a fixture that allowed the Hungarian minority groups to express unity and solidarity for each other.

I was able to carry out a quick post-match interview with Kárpátalja captain and goalkeeper Béla Fejér:

Karpataly vs Szekely Land

How did you experience the world cup so far?

Very good so far. I would not have thought of this even in my wildest dreams. We wanted to win more and more games and get to the final. Thanks to God, we got there. This is team work.

What was the goal originally?

I don’t know. Each game I play, whether for club or country, my aim is to win. Everyone else’s goal in the team is the same.

The majority of Hungarian fans were supporting Székely Land, how did this make you guys feel?

I cannot contest this. We are from one blood. The way they supported them, in their hearts they supported us well. We are all Hungarian.

Do you have any players’ performances which have impressed you?

Well, this is a team sport. I can only say team work. Players start and sit on the bench, but in my opinion the whole process is team work.

What is wrong with Hungarian football?

Written by Tomasz Mortimer

Just under two years ago Hungary were preparing for their first major tournament in 30 years. 24 months on since that magnificent opening win over Austria, Hungary have beaten just four sides - Latvia, Faroe Islands, Andorra and a depleted Costa Rica. They’ve lost to Belgium, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland, Scotland, Andorra, Luxembourg and Russia. But before finding out what went wrong, we need to first quickly look at what we went right.

The campaign to get Hungary to the finals was a strange one - three managers, a loss to bottom of the table, just four wins from ten games - yet following Attila Pinter’s sacking after an opening day home defeat to Northern Ireland, Hungary rode their way through qualification on a huge wave of optimism. The optimism spawned from one man, Pal Dardai.

Dardai has been at Hertha Berlin for three seasons now, but when he took over the reins of the Hungarian national team he had never managed a single senior game. His first test was away at bitter rivals and group favourites Romania but looking back at it now it was far from a baptism of fire, as it was billed at the time. Motivating a team for a game against your biggest rivals couldn’t be easier.

Hungary drew the game 1-1, Balazs Dzsudzsak scored an 84th-minute free-kick equaliser and the players celebrated the tie by listening to a rendition of Himnusz which echoed around an empty National Arena, save for a few thousand Hungarian fans. For Hungary, the draw was a catalyst for the successful campaign. For Dardai, it was a catalyst for a top Bundesliga job.

By the time Dardai had handed over power to Under 21 coach Bernd Storck following his appointment at Hertha in the summer of 2015, the relatively unknown German only had to carry on the good work, stabilise the side and delicately navigate the squad to a third-place finish which seemed quite straightforward. Momentum was massively behind the side and the tough task awaiting Storck would be to make it through the playoff. Yet Hungary sailed through beating Norway 3-1 on aggregate thanks in large part to some miraculous tactical decisions from Storck. The German became a Hungarian icon following the game.

Euro 2016 came and Hungary performed well beyond expectations, but that became a problem in itself. The overachievement left Hungarian fans and Hungarian players with an inflated self-worth, and self-expectation. Storck too.

Hungary started with a dominant performance over Austria, then followed it up with a gritty draw against Iceland before finishing the group in mesmerising fashion by drawing 3-3 to eventual winners Portugal. A 4-0 hammering from Belgium came in the Last 16, but it wasn’t really seen as a reality check, it was seen more as an unfortunate consequence of a gung-ho attitude.

Hungary’s side during the Euro wasn’t particularly great or particularly young, but there were exciting prospects sprinkled throughout the side like Adam Lang (23), Adam Nagy (21) and Laszlo Kleinheisler (22) who all ended up playing football in a ‘top five’ European league following the Euro while at home the climate was really starting to warm toward a more football-centric model following huge investment from the government.

Since 2014, six different clubs have had brand new stadiums built with help from the Fidesz government and a brand new national stadium will also be completed in 2019. Along with academy refurbishments, the government’s estimated football expenditure stands at over €1bn.

Yet almost exactly two years on from that magnificent win, Hungarian football arguably stands at its lowest ever ebb. In FIFA rankings not so much, Hungary still stand at a respectable 49th – in 1996 they were 87th – yet in 2017 Hungary became the first team to lose to Luxembourg and Andorra in the same year and just the fourth side to ever to lose to both. It was just the second competitive match Andorra had ever won, their first in 13 years.

Sometimes bad games can be just anomalies, but these aren’t anomalies. Four months after losing to Luxembourg, Hungary were well beaten by Kazakhstan at home. These problems run deep.

The confidence had been sapped. Following the incredible high of Euro 2016 where the Hungarian public and players celebrated group wins and draws like they’d won the tournament, reality soon came back to bite when in the first qualifier for the 2018 World Cup Hungary failed to beat the Faroe Islands.

After being on such a high, it is understandably hard to motivate yourself when you’re playing a game three months later in front of less than 10,000 fans on a 3G pitch in Torshavn. The players are human beings afterall. But the momentum built up during that incredible run to the Euros and the tournament itself died that night.

A devastating last-minute loss followed a month later at home to Switzerland and qualification was all but over. The subsequent games were devised as tryouts for the young members of the squad but every trial they had ended in a disaster; an inexperienced Hungary side went to Andorra and ended up losing. After the game the players threw their shirts into the crowd. The shirts were thrown straight back at them. Storck took the blame and the halo that he accrued by guiding Hungary to the Euros had been well and truly shattered, but Hungary were stuck between a rock and a hard place. Young players needed to be integrated into the side, yet the fans wanted results. Either way, Hungary should never have lost that game so Storck handed his resignation in which was rejected by the MLSz. The players should’ve taken the blame but by this point the fight was gone and the confidence was below empty. To this day it’s never recovered.

The losses to Luxembourg and Kazakhstan felt inevitable. The swashbuckling, free-flowing football that Hungarian fans were wowed by at times by this very same crop of players is long gone. Hungary now need a restart. They thought it would come with Georges Leeken following Storck's eventual departure in the winter of 2017, but the age and the baggage hasn’t been dispended of – it’s still whirling around on the carousel in the dressing room. Only Adam Nagy, now a bit-part player at Bologna and Laszlo Kleinheisler, now at Astana, were under 28 in the starting XI vs Belarus last night.

The performance was again abject. If it wasn’t for Peter Gulacsi, Hungary would’ve deservedly lost. Leekens has now been in charge of two losses – Kazakhstan and Scotland – and one draw. There is no way he turns this around.

Hungary’s squad as it stands is ghastly, it’s a side that wilts in the shirt and it’s a side that already feels like it doesn’t want to play for the manager. Nemanja Nikolics retired after playing just 7 minutes vs Scotland and Daniel Bode said following the Kazakhstan game that he didn’t know the team instructions because no one translated Leekens’ teamtalk into Hungarian for him. Akos Elek said last night the team has no common voice under Leekens.

The Belgian lasted just 5 games in charge of Algeria in his last managerial role, his only win came in a friendly over Mauritania. This was with a side that had Riyad Mahrez, Sofiane Feghouli and Yacime Brahimi at his disposal. No current Hungarian player gets near any of those three – Hungary’s best player plays in goal.

The future generation however does look fairly promising, but it’s hard to get excited about Hungarian youngsters after so many have failed to live up to expectation. Dominik Szoboszlai and Daniel Salloi do look like top talents, yet there’s this consistent nagging feeling that something will go wrong. And don’t even get me started on Hungarian club football.

I know we’ve been here before, at what is seemingly the lowest of the low, but to be in this position two years after the wild ride of Euro 2016 is just unbelievably miserable. And the outlook is so damn gloomy.

Budapest is hosting four games at the Euros in 2020 and there’s next to no chance Hungary will be there. How Hungary recovers from this mess is anyone’s guess. It felt like things couldn’t get any worse after that loss to Andorra, yet somehow, it has.

Thirty years Hungary waited to qualify for a major tournament. Am I being too pessimistic in thinking that the wait might just be as long again?

Inside The Other World Cup

Hungary may not have qualified for the FIFA World Cup later this month in Russia, but at the ConIFA World Cup currently being held in London, it's a different story. Tamás Cserép and Raphael Jucobin went down to find out more.

Regulars on London’s W3 bus service along White Hart Lane will be accustomed to seeing football fans flock on board on Saturday afternoons. Today though, instead of carrying on up to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, the groups of supporters got off a mile before, at non-league Haringey Borough FC’s Coles Park ground. The 2500-seater, nestled in an industrial estate in North London, was set to play host to its second match of the World Cup group stages. The ConIFA World Cup, that is.

The ConIFA World Cup is an international tournament set up for teams who represent minority groups and unrecognised states which are not part of FIFA, with the 2018 edition being hosted by London. Among the participants, Székely Land and Matabeleland would face off in this crucial Group C fixture.

Székely Land (Székelyföld in Hungarian) is an ethnically Hungarian region in the heart of Transylvania. Since the Trianon Treaty signed in 1920 it has been part of Romania. Their team is usually supported by people from the region and Hungarians alike. Matabeleland, on the other hand, is a region of Zimbabwe which is mostly inhabited by the Ndebele people. The football association hopes to promote development through sport in the region, which has been largely been left to its own devices by Mugabe’s regime.

Conifa World Cup

In the run-down rusted stands, rickety seats awaited the Székely and Matabeleland faithful. Most Székely fans chose to stand by the barrier surrounding the pitch, away from the British spectators who are perhaps less-accustomed to Eastern European ultra-groups. Hungarians were wearing their national team’s kit along with the usual fan-favourite black ‘Magyarország’ T-shirts. Matabeleland supporters were present in high numbers as well, with many wearing traditional Ndebele clothing and waving Zimbabwean flags. Throughout the game they created a vibrant atmosphere, showing support through traditional songs and dances. Both Hungarians and neutrals were even tempted and encouraged to take part - there was a mutual respect between both sets of players and fans, showing solidarity for each other’s political situation.

The Hungarians welcomed kick-off with the customary red, white and green flares as they set about creating the atmosphere the national team’s ultras are so known for. However, it was Matabeleland who got off to a quick start as attacker Sawusani Mudimba came close to finding the opener in the first few seconds of the match. The game was very even until the 24th minute, when Matabeleland substitute Dude clattered the oncoming striker and was promptly shown red, tipping the balance of the fixture in Székely Land’s direction.

The Matabeleland defence eventually cracked soon afterwards in the 30th minute when a hard challenge by substitute Sidibindi, lucky to escape the same fate as his goalkeeper just six minutes prior, resulted in a penalty, which was converted by DVTK player Fülöp. Székely Land went onto score two more before half time, with a long range free kick from midfielder Györgyi and a simple tap in from a Györgyi cross by the aptly named Magyari. Matabeleland were very vulnerable at the back throughout the match, with long balls over their defensive line often leading to clear-cut chances for the Hungarian outfit.

The second half was much more balanced, but Magyari was able to nick another goal capitalising on a mistake by substitute goalkeeper Sithole (4-0). Soon enough, the pace of the game visibly slowed as both sides tired. However, substitute striker László neatly poked the ball past Sithole to make it 5-0.

In defence of Matabeleland, there had been a noticeable disparity in skill between the two teams. The Székely Team boasted a team captained and led by centre-back Csaba Csizmadia, who has been capped 14 times for Hungary, as well as various players plying their trade in Romania’s Liga I.

Despite their heavy loss, Matabeleland fans were, to their credit, in full voice throughout the match, inspiring both neutral and Hungarian fans alike by sharing their culture. Even renowned Székely-native manager László Bölöni, best known for his stints at Sporting CP and Rennes, was taking photos and videos with the Matabeleland fans.

The atmosphere and energy of these games is a stark contrast to the pomp and artifice that will greet fans at the ‘real’ World Cup in a couple of weeks’ time. Despite the undeniable gulf in quality between the two tournaments, the CONIFA World Cup can at least pride itself on being the more authentic football experience. If you are in the London area in the upcoming week and in need of live football, don’t hesitate to check out one of the games.

Speaking to István Beregi, Match Analyst at MTK Budapest

MTK Budapest secured their passage back to NB I a couple of weeks ago, so we caught up with their match analyst and friend of the site István Beregi to talk about their season in NB II.

Hey Istvan! Congrats on promotion! Did you expect to coast to the title so comfortably?

First of all, thank you very much! Well, before the season I certainly did not expect, although I was confident and almost sure that we are going to get promoted. After some games I have seen that we represent a different quality in this league and after our fantastic first half of the season we knew that the only question is if we are going to be champions or not. Even at that time I thought that our last home game, against Kisvarda might be a final for that, although seeing their weakening form in the first games at March/April we knew that it's only a matter of time that we are going to be champions.

Sometimes it's hard for players to find motivation against lesser sides at small stadiums in front of small crowds, was that ever a problem this season for MTK?

Luckily, it wasn't. The whole team was really focused until the very end, thanks to the great mentality that our staff and players have represented. We were really goal-oriented through the whole process. The team selection could also facilitate this, since there were a lot of rotations, and everybody had the chance to show their quality.

What's it been like working under Feczkó and what's changed at the club this season?

I'm really enjoying the work with him, because of 2 big reasons: he gives me full freedom in my work (e.g: what clips do we show for the team about the next opponent etc.), and he listens to my ideas & opinions, and also has the need from me to give him ideas about specific systems or movements we could use. I think that there is a much more positive atmosphere at the club from a mental point of view. Tactically, we are trying to get back to the classic MTK philosophy (bigger focus on possession and short passing), implying it in a more modern way (more aggressive pressing game).

What was the feeling after going out of the cup? Proud or frustrated?

Both. I felt proud, because we were an equal opponent of this really good Újpest (the later winner), and frustrated because even with winning the second leg we couldn't get through the semi-finals. I believe the game showed us that we are on a good path, but also showed the areas in what we must improve or change.

How much have do you think the team have grown this season, and how much have you personally grown this season?

Mentally, the whole team has grown a lot. The way I see it the club has profited from this relegation since there has been a change of thinking and rejuvenation, exactly what we really needed. Personally I created a much better connection with the players, which has given me a lot of positive reinforcement and confidence in my work, and in the way I see the game.

What was your favourite moment of the season?

Definitely Bence Deutsch's screamer against Újpest. A fantastic goal from a fantastic guy, and also a fantastic team performance. The way the whole team gathered together after that goal shows what kind of team we are.

How would you rate the season out of 10?


Do you believe you need to make many signings in the summer to achieve your goals in NBI next year?

Not many, but definitely a few is necessary. As a promoted team the biggest priority of course is that maintain our place in the NB1, although our staff and players are much more ambitious than that, therefore I think subconsciously everyone has bigger goals for the next season. There are some positions where we would like some new faces, but we want to base everything on the team we created this season.

Are the likes of Kanta and Torghelle going to stick around? And will they be first teamers?

Since they are still an important part of the team, we are counting on them for the next season as well.

Questions from Twitter

What do you think of Tamás Deutsch’s leadership of the club? Does he interact with the playing and coaching staff much? - @crusader120

From the staff he only interacts with the head coach, but mainly with the management (sports director, owner etc.). His interview (DigiSport - Reggeli Start) after our relegation was harsh, but also fair, and that motivated me really much. From that I could say that he saw the situation well, and that he will do everything for the change of thinking inside the club.

What do you think of the current state of youth development in Hungary? - @crusader120

Improving, but we are still far behind. There are more and more talented young people working in professional football, who does their best to change the culture from a mental and professional view as well. It's nice to have improving conditions (pitches etc.), but the most important is the professional work itself. Until we can't change and improve that, our football is not going to get significantly better.

Is he going to come back to Twitter? We miss his annotated stills - @NathanAClark

I'm on it, but I can't say for sure. Trying to remove my suspension, although it takes a long time. I miss Twitter as well, though I try to keep up with everything I can.

What are your expectations for next year back in NB I? - @malevolent_goat

That's tough. As I wrote earlier there is a big hunger for success inside the team, and based on that we could be a surprise for the next season. Personally I believe, that our style of play will be a novelty in the league, which could lead us to greater positions and results for the upcoming season.

How do you see the Hungary NT progressing? Will they ever reach the heights of the Magic Magyars? Also, what's the next big tactical trend in football? - @cityzenforlife

To be honest, I wouldn't like to comment on our NT team too much. The way I see it we are on a wrong path, but the bigger issue is that I can't see the basic direction neither.

That's tough to predict. I believe there is a huge potential in set-plays that are not really utilized yet. From a defensive point of view I see some great possibilities in using defensive or pressing traps. Offensively I think that manipulating the defensive system with specific movement and player rotations is the area that holds some nice opportunities for the future.

Kenny Otigba - Switching Allegiances: The Dilemma of National Legibility

For most young footballers, representing their country on the international stage is the ultimate dream. But for some players, the international call can come from more than one quarter - and at that point, a decision must be made. Do I want to play for my country of birth? Or do I want to represent my adopted land or the country of my heritage? And for some, their final decision can leave them wondering what might have been had they chosen the alternative path. That exact situation arose not once, but twice for Kenny Otigba.

Otigba was born in Nigeria to a Nigerian father and Hungarian mother, but moved to Hungary in childhood and grew up playing football in the country. At 15, Otigba moved to Holland from Bekescsaba to play for Heerenveen, and despite playing for various Hungarian youth teams from the age of 17, rarely returned to Hungary.

In 2014, at 22, Otigba was called up for the Hungary senior team to play vs Romania, but Otigba refused the call-up opting to choose the country of his birth over his adopted country. The decision didn't sit well with the Hungarian fans.

Otigba's club career didn't pan out as planned from there, and in 2017 he returned to play in Hungary after an unsuccessful spell in Turkey. In March 2018, Otigba was again offered the chance to play for Hungary, and this time he accepted the call, much to the derision of a large percentage of the Hungarian footballing public. But Otigba is far from the first footballer to have such an identity crisis.

Perhaps the highest profile incident in recent years involved Atlético Madrid’s Diego Costa. The striker was born in Brazil but was granted Spanish nationality in 2013 after spending more than five years playing in the country. He had already played two friendly matches for Brazil when he made the switch and chose to play for Spain. While his career with Spain has not been spectacular, it’s probably fair to say he might not have fared much better had he stuck with Brazil. After all, both countries have a wealth of talent at their disposal.

Another recent example of a player who nearly switched allegiances is Jorginho, who currently plays for Napoli in Italy. Also born in Brazil, he moved to Italy at a young age and his family is of Italian origin. As a result, he holds both Brazilian and Italian citizenship. In 2014, he made it clear that he would prefer to represent Italy - but by 2017, he was considering his options. He had been called into the Italy squad but only for friendly matches and was overlooked for the Euro 2016 squad. With rumours that Brazil had been in contact, he was finally named by Gian Piero Ventura in the squad for Italy’s 2018 World cup play-off matches against Sweden. Unfortunately, the Azzurri failed to score over the two-legs and were knocked out by a 1-0 aggregate scoreline.

Many years ago, before rules were tightened up, players would often represent more than one country. One famous example is Iuliu Bodola, who represented Hungary 13 times and Romania 48 times between 1931 and 1948. In fact, he long held the records for most caps and most goals for the Romanian national team despite switching teams after World War II. He is often spoken of as the greatest Romanian national team player of all time.

Today, players need to make their choice before stepping onto the grass at senior competitive level. That is the dilemma that faced Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey, who recently gave the Jamaican Football Federation an ultimatum to persuade him why he should commit to the country of his birth when he could also represent England. With the clock ticking, the player, who has English grandparents has yet to make a decision although as of March 10, 2018 he was 5/2 to make the England World Cup squad with Oddschecker. As he is one of the hottest prospects in European football, it has been suggested that the FA should act quick and gain his commitment. However, as things stand, Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has continued to overlook the player.

Back in the 1980s, another Jamaica-born player, John Barnes, also had the option of playing for either his home or adopted country. In fact, as a British passport holder at the time, he could have played for any British nation. Barnes himself stated:” "The only reason I played for England was because they were the first to ask... If Scotland had asked [first]... You go and play for Scotland."

In perhaps the strangest case of all, Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano represented three countries during his career. Aged just 21, he'd made six appearances for native Argentina netting six goals in the process. He then moved to Colombia and in 1949, played four games for Colombia, but they were not recognised by FIFA. After taking Spanish nationality in 1956, he went on to play 31 games for La Roja but missed out on the 1958 World Cup when they failed to qualify. An injury also ruled him out of the next tournament in Chile, after which his international football career came to an end.

Will Hungarian football crumble should Orbanistan fall?

With the gap closing in the polls ahead of the general election, what will happen to Hungarian football should the unimaginable happen? Written by Tomasz Mortimer

"In a dictatorship, it is difficult to predict the popularity of political forces, as people do not dare say that they don't support the ruling party."

Hungarian society has long been labeled a dictatorship by dissenting voices under Fidesz rule, and though Jobbik leader Gabor Vona's words in early March may seem hyperbolic to some, at least part of the statement seemed to ring true.

Fidesz still stand at a decent 41% in the polls, but as soon ago as February that figure stood at 62%, and the feeling is that the public are shy to tell pollsters that they're voting for anyone but Fidesz.

Just over two months ago anything other than a Fidesz landslide in April's general election seemed inconceivable, but a local bi-election victory for an Independent, Jobbik backed Peter Marki-Zay at the end of February in the city of Hodmezovasarhely seemed to change everything.

As a result of the victory, Vona and his right-wing party extended the olive branch to those parties on the left; "cooperation is important", Vona stated. For the first time, and unpredictably, a formerly divided and politically jumbled opposition came together. And were galvanised.

The margin for error is narrowing. Anything but a two-thirds absolute majority could see Orban ousted from his position at Fidesz. It would at least cause political chaos.

But what will that mean for Hungarian football? The Fidesz government have spent lavishly on Viktor Orban's favourite sport since winning the election in 2010, both at home and abroad.

Stadiums and academies have been built, the Hungarian league's TV broadcaster is under government control, and Orban allies are in charge at Ferencvaros, Videoton, MTK, Puskas Akademia, and Osijek in Croatia, to name but a few.

Will everything that has been built up over the last eight years crumble to dust if Fidesz falls?

Sandor Csanyi and the MLSz

Owner of the league's primary sponsor OTP Bank, Sandor Csanyi is Hungary's richest man, but not exactly a government ally despite becoming President of the Hungarian Football Federation (the MLSz) on the recommendation of Orban just two months after Fidesz's election win in 2010.

Csanyi is not a 'football man'. He doesn't dislike it, but it's not his passion. However, to prosper politically, and financially, in 'Orbanistan', investing in football is a must.

Not much concrete information is known about Csanyi's political leanings. Publically he's apolitical, though he has gotten on amicably with all of Hungary's PM's down the years, but his relationship with Orban and his party has been slightly different. It's been frosty and turbulent.

Following Hungary's failure to qualify for the World Cup in 2014, Csanyi was publically vilified by a number of Fidesz ministers including Janos Lazar, Mate Kocsis, Tamas Deutsch (owner of MTK Budapest), and Zsolt Wintermantel, who vocally demanded Csanyi's resignation.

Csanyi hit back at all of his critics, labeling Tamas Deutsch a "Twitter Tsar", and saying of Kocsis, "as a spokesman for Fidesz he has so many other opportunities to lie." The spat didn't go down well with Orban.

Sandor Csanyi, unlike Orban allies and former allies such as Lorinc Meszaros and Lajos Simicska, is an independent player, and almost bulletproof. Orban is an advocate of Putin’s social model, where the business elite are dependent on the leader and the few independent players remain mostly isolated.

Csanyi isn't dependent on Orban, and is the owner of the biggest bank in Hungary and the food manufacturer Bonafarm. He's also on the board of the gas multinational MOL (another main sponsor of the MLSz) and was also recently appointed FIFA Vice President. He has way too much power to be simply cast aside.

That Vice Presidency may just be a crucial component to the longevity of the MLSz. It wields international power for Csanyi that wouldn't have been possible before, so should Fidesz fall in April, the MLSz could continue unhindered. At least politically.

Financially, things may be different. Between 2011 and 2014, through the government's now opaque TAO system, the Hungarian football system (the MLSz and the clubs) received $276 million in donations.

"The scheme essentially allows corporations to write off 100 percent of donations made to sport clubs meeting certain criteria," says Benjamin Novak from the Budapest Beacon. "The government argues such contributions are private contributions. However, Transparency International believes such contributions amount to a diversion of corporate taxes from public coffers to private sports clubs, and that for this reason such contributions should technically be regarded as public funds."

Since 2016, contributions made through the TAO program constitute as ‘tax secrets’, and are therefore not publicly viewable. Transparency International warned that there were serious corruption risks relating to the programme stating that the "contributions may be made to sports clubs tied to politicians in exchange for the donor being awarded lucrative public procurements."

Where the money comes from is anyone's guess, and though the TAO system is unlikely to come to a complete halt following a potential Fidesz defeat, the donations will drop dramatically.

"Any such coalition would likely hit restart on key laws - including the Basic Law - associated with Fidesz and the TAO scheme would certainly be considered one of these," freelance political journalist Dan Nolan told me.

"Football in some ways defines the post-2010 Orban regime at this point, and it would be 'an open net' for any government to cancel future stadium building projects and demonstrably reassign football funding to public services. Given Sandor Csanyi's original reluctance to accept the MLSZ leadership - added to the fact that he just became FIFA vice president - he could be replaced without much argument from either side."

Stadium building projects, along with academy refurbishments, have been a staple of the incumbent Orban government. Ferencvaros, Debrecen, Haladas, Diosgyor, Mezokovesd and Puskas Akademia have all had new grounds built with TAO money, plus the new national stadium, the Puskas Ferenc Stadion, will join the long list in 2019. The cost stands at over €1 billion.

"The TAO program and the stadium projects that have yet to start - Honved and Nyiregyhaza for example - would be stopped ASAP, but the MLSz has contracts with the national broadcaster [MTVA] and the national betting company [Szerencsejatek Zrt.] until the summer of 2021," says Gabor, the editor of, the leading Ferencvaros fan blog.

"So infrastructure and youth development would take a major hit, but first-team wages would be paid out, and the new stadiums would be maintained. I doubt that Csanyi would resign as the president of the MLSz, and his bank, OTP, will not drop its contracts with his own association."

"For the MLSz, I cannot see much difference. In general, sports might take a hit and we'll see how big of a hit it is. I think there is a valid danger to the whole of Hungarian sports if there will be a party (or parties) in power, which pulls the plug on the TAO programme," freelance journalist Gergely Marosi told me. "It can be easily attacked in its current form, and probably a lot of people would agree if somebody promised: "we give less to sport but more to healthcare and education.""

"If the TAO system is completely pulled - I find that unlikely - sports clubs, in general, might end up in trouble. For football, if there is a change, there will be less money, probably. In general, sports has a rare period now in Hungary - it has huge investments and a full government support. It's night and day from the neglect after the 1990 system change - which actually made things like major infrastructure programs necessary."

The Clubs of NB I

Though NB I is ranked 36th out of 55 in the UEFA coefficient rankings, the money circulating around the league is far from paltry.

Clubs like Ferencvaros, Videoton, and to a lesser extent Puskas Akademia can currently compete with almost anyone within the region when it comes to transfer fees and wages. All three clubs spent over €500k on a single player last summer (newly promoted Puskas Akademia bought Liridon Latifi from Skenderbeu for over €1m), and they've all signed a player who's making upwards of €5,000 a week. That may not sound a lot to followers of western European football, but when you take into account that the three clubs are averaging matchday receipts of €45,000, €10,000 and €7,000 respectively, and the NB I television deal stands at just over €10m; you start to see the bubble that's inflating.

To make things more troubling, the shortfall is almost exclusively being picked up by the government and sponsors with government ties - seven of the twelve sides in NB I are currently owned by Fidesz allies or current members of Fidesz.

The aforementioned Andras Tallai the owner of Mezokovesd is a Fidesz MP, Lorinc Meszaros the owner of Puskas Akademia is the Fidesz mayor of Felcsut, Janos Suli the owner of Paks is a Fidesz Minister without Portfolio, the local Fidesz government in Miskolc own nearly half of DVTK, Fidesz MP Istvan Tiba owns Balmazujvaros, Fidesz MP Gabor Kubatov is the President of Ferencvaros, and Orban ally and business oligarch Istvan Garancsi owns Videoton. There's more in NB II.

"In the medium term, Hungarian players' and the mean wages would drop and those clubs that have a more stable financial background - Ferencváros, Videoton and quite possibly even Puskas Akademia - would be able to sign the best Hungarian talents more freely. Especially at the youth level," says Gabor from

"All club's budget would drop significantly after 2021, but while the Honved's, Mezokovesd's and Balmazujvaros's of the league would lose most of their financing with the two major contracts running out, Fradi's budget would 'only' drop to about 70%."

There are plenty of small, provincial clubs that have prospered under Fidesz's rule, but none more so than Mezokovesd and Balmazujvaros.

Before Orban's victory in 2010, both teams had spent just four seasons throughout their combined 121-year history as high as Hungary's second tier, their respective populations stand at 16,000 and 18,000, yet they both now sit in NB I. And they're spending well beyond their means - Balmazujvaros have signed 23 players this season, Mezokovesd 28. Mezokovesd also have a new tax-paid stadium.

"Because almost all the teams are connected with Fidesz, it's really unpredictable what would happen with these teams in the first division," says Levente Hegedus from

"I don't see which teams could benefit seriously from it. It's clear that Mezokovesd, Balmazujvaros, Gyirmot, and Kisvarda never would be a first division team again without government finances."

The five remaining sides who aren't owned by Fidesz men - Haladas, Debrecen, Ujpest, Honved and Vasas - are still reliant on government money, and it would be likely that the foreign owners of Ujpest would pull the plug should the government fall.

"I think if there will be less money coming in across the board, wages will sink," says Marosi. "That might trigger a player exodus: young players who are now comfortable playing in NB I might look for foreign experience and less well-known players will be willing to come home. Also, maybe the quality of the foreign players - which is on the rise, I think, in the last years - will deteriorate."

"For some non-traditional football clubs which have close ties to high-ranking politicians - Puskas Akademia, Mezokovesd for example - their financial edge might be gone. Given the TV rights amounts and the wealthy, local 'strong people', they might still adjust well."

Lorinc Meszaros, Puskas Akademia & Osijek

How Lorinc Meszaros would fair without Fidesz in power is an interesting question. However, due to the money he has procured over the last few years, things should just carry on as normal.

Since 2014, Meszaros has seen his fortune more than quintuple in value, and he currently sits at number five in Hungary's rich list. His wealth has come almost entirely from government contracts, and along with owning a significant percentage of Hungary's media (including all the regional newspapers in 12 of Hungary's 19 counties), he also owns Puskas Akademia and NK Osijek in Croatia's top tier.

Osijek finished 4th in the league last season, their highest standing since 2008, and are currently 4th again this year. The turnaround since Meszaros has taken over has been impressive as the club had been struggling with financial difficulties before he took over.

"Osijek are currently building a large, modern training camp and a luxury new stadium. None of that would have been possible without Orban and some heavy investment from the Hungarian government," says Alex Holiga, the chief editor of Telesport.

"Obviously that kind of bizarre arrangement can't last very long, but I'm sure Osijek fans are just hoping the Hungarians will honor their promises and build things before they leave. The hard part would be finding ways to stay sustainable after that, no matter who would take over - assuming Meszaros would sell the club - because I don't think any other future owner will have access to that kind of lavish investment."

Meszaros' intentions in Croatia are political, and of course financial. It's unlikely that Meszaros is at Osijek to make a quick buck, though for someone who has aspirations of creating contacts and business opportunities across Central and Eastern Europe, football can be used as a logical vehicle to navigate into the right avenues.

But for Meszaros, Orban's frontman, the control of the media is the main priority, so sport will be the first project to take a hit should the situation call for such measure. And whereas Puskas Akademia is the PM's pet project, Osijek is seen by Meszaros as a luxury and will be a cut adrift without much thought.

Puskas Akademia though is likely to stay on a steady course. Football fans across Hungary stand vehemently against the club from Felcsut, and many would like to see nothing more than watch the project implode, but in 2018 Lorinc Meszaros is too wealthy a man to let such thing happen.

The Crux

Football is far from the most important matter on the agenda as Hungary goes to the polls on Sunday, but for Magyar foci fans who've seen this bizarre, lavish spending spree continue unabated, it's hard not to feel at least a degree of trepidation for the game should the government fall.

However, though some may predict a full-blown catastrophe, many of the clubs will continue on as normal, and arguably, things could improve.

During the last five or so years, domestic players have felt comfortable playing in Hungary, unwilling to venture elsewhere because the money at home is good. That will change. Seeing the likes of Dominik Nagy, Laszlo Kleinheisler and Daniel Tozser return back to their safe haven has been frustrating. Plus clubs like Videoton and Ferencvaros, who will lose some of their budget should Orban go, would be more inclined to use their academies to harvest players rather than look abroad for talent.

For those teams like Haladas, Vasas, Honved and MTK (who are 20 points clear of NB II) who consistently promote young players through their system, a new government could give them a substantial edge.

With regards to academies, they'll still more than likely receive funds through the TAO system. The base of the pyramid should still remain strong.

New stadiums certainly won't be built, but the likes of the Nagyerdei Stadion and the Haladas Sportkomplexum are just destined to become white elephants anyway.

Though the money will slowly dissipate that doesn't mean Hungarian football will slide back into the abyss, and are things really improving with all this money being spent on it anyway? It's too soon to tell, but the early signs aren't encouraging - Hungary have lost to Andorra, Luxembourg and Kazakhstan in the past year.

A Fidesz defeat will be far from the last nail in the coffin for Hungarian football. That moment has arguably already come and gone.