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?

8/10.

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 ulloi129.hu, 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 ulloi129.hu.

"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 videoton.taccs.hu

"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.


The Fall and Fall of Hungarian Football since Euro 2016

Hungary have been defeated by Andorra, Luxembourg and Kazakhstan in the past 12 months. What has happened to Hungarian football since Euro 2016? Written by Tamás Cserép

The magical run during the 2016 European Championship is a distant memory for Hungary fans as recent abysmal performances have become an ordinary occurrence for the national team.

Fans were optimistic entering the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup; based on the showing of the Euros, Hungary should have been more than capable of taking on the big guns of Portugal and Switzerland and at least challenging for a place in Russia.

However, the campaign started off poorly with a goalless draw against the Faroe Islands away from home. The strong winds and the artificial pitches were excuses given for the despondent performance, which the fans quietly accepted. The spirit of the Euros – still burning in players and fans – was still not completely put out during the 3-2 loss against Switzerland, when the Swiss grabbed the winner in the last few minutes of the game.

But the opening matches of 2017 marked the start of what ended up being one of the worst years in the history of the Hungarian national team.

In the first game of early spring, Hungary travelled to Portugal where they were well and truly battered 3-0, a fixture in which less than a year ago Hungary managed to score three goals themselves, producing an outstanding 3-3 draw, which turned out to be one of the best games of the tournament.  The defeat marked the moment when Hungarians were dragged back to reality: our national team is not even the shadow of our Euro squad and they have returned to mediocrity, or even worse.

On the 9th of June Hungary hit rock bottom as they lost to Andorra, allowing their opponent to get their first win since 2004. The Magyar’s showing was so pathetic, only the Hungarian word szánalmas’ does it justice. There appeared to be no drive and no creativity from the team as they failed to break down Andorra’s "sturdy" defence. The result against Andorra cost the national team the respect and support of the fans. They were not only disgusted by the performance, but by the players’ attitude on the pitch. After the game Bernd Storck – the national team coach – handed in his resignation, which was not accepted by the Hungarian Football Federation as they wanted to give him one more chance.

That final chance came in the autumn of 2017, when Hungary faced a mediocre Portuguese side. Their game showed some promise, but there was clearly a lack of cohesion amongst the players - including missed passes and poor communication - and were deservedly beaten. A few days later Hungary travelled to Basel where they were hammered 5-2 by the Swiss. Hungary were out of the race for World Cup qualification, and losing the next game would have them finish only 1 point above the Faroe Islands. In the final fixture of the campaign, Hungary beat the Faroes 1-0 in a match that was so dull that neither side deserved any points. Bernd Storck was subsequently sacked as The Federation looked elsewhere to start their Nations League and Euro 2020 qualification campaign – a showing at the latter would be crucial as not making Euro 2020 would be another in the long list of disasters, as Budapest are one of the venues for the tournament.

While this could have been the chance to get some fresh air, Hungary’s form continued under interim coach Zoltán Szélesi. Even though they beat Costa Rica 1-0 in what turned out to be one of the best performances of the year, a few days earlier Hungary fell at the hands of Luxembourg.

Change could not come soon enough, but it did not come the way fans expected. On the 30th of October, the federation appointed Georges Leekens to manage the national side. Previously virtually unheard of in Hungary, quick googling has shown that he has plenty of experience on the international stage as he has managed Algeria twice, Tunisia and Belgium. With regards to Belgium, he is partially credited for the breakthrough of the rise of their current generation. While a large proportion of fans were not pleased with his appointment, his charisma and optimism had helped reduce negative spirits. The months preceding his first games in charge he travelled around the country and the region trying to work out the best squad possible and start writing his chapter in Hungarian football history  

Not a lot can be said about Leekens so far, but one thing is definite – he has already made his mark on the national team and has raised controversy. A meagre 9000 people watched in horror as Hungary conceded 2 goals in the first 10 minutes with Leekens at the helm. The side managed to ‘improve’ the final score to a 3-2 loss, but it did not stop the ultras from walking out half an hour early.  Fans were not just disappointed with the team selection – which did not feature star Ádám Nagy and fan favourite Richárd Guzmics - but with the showing from the players as well; 3-2 down, with 10 minutes to go, there was no sense of urgency from them and one cannot help but think that the empty seats did not inspire them. The strong connection that was between the players and the fans two years ago has dissipated and perished. Players did not say what happened in the dressing room at halftime. The only thing that was revealed by cult hero Dániel Böde is that what was said at the end of the game by Leekens was not translated to him into Hungarian.  Surely if we want greater unity in the national team, instructions from the manager should be understood by all?

Tuesday’s home loss to Scotland came as no surprise to anyone. Even though the team’s play was more dynamic and the players showed greater urgency, their inability to finish clear-cut chances cost them the game. As for the fans, the majority of them have accepted that their national team is below average and they are inside a gaping hole that is getting deeper with no hope in sight. Very few players showed a sense of dedication and leadership, only Balázs Dzsudzsák, Kenneth Otigba and Gergő Lovrencsics looked particularly bothered. The latter broke down crying during a post-match interview, saying that "they are trying to improve things."

What does the future hold for Hungarians, whose national side won the hearts of fans around the world at Euro 2016? Fans should need to look at the situation realistically; the majority of the players in the squad play in leagues that are inferior to what is required at a major tournament – including the Hungarian League, UAE, MLS and the Chinese Second Division. The only way this team could achieve anything is through hard work, passion and dedication. We do not want a situation that can be found in England, where players are more concerned about their financial situation than representing their country. Players should feel honoured for playing for Hungary, and the only way they can be successful is by embracing that.

Secondly, there needs to be a change of generation. A lot of the players from the Euros are still here, and it is time to incorporate young players. Players such as Guzmics (soon 31), Dzsudzsák (31), Pintér (29), Stieber (29), Lovrencsics (29) Pátkai (30), Szalai (30), Nikolic (30), Németh (29) and Böde (31) have all played in the recent international break. The star of Euro 2016, Nagy did not feature for a single minute in the last two games. With poor results coming match-by-match, it is the perfect opportunity to revamp the squad and bring in new young players - such as Holman and Kalmár. Hungarian football is entering into an abyss, so it might as well hit it head-on with a new young team that can grow into something special. The national team needs to start shaping up with a long-term goal. Let players with flair and passion take the torch from a generation that has done its job and has got Hungary to a major tournament. Players in the current team will end up ageing sooner or later, it is only a matter of time before young players will be called up for international duty.


What Does the Future Hold for Adam Bogdan?

Adam Bogdan has become something of a forgotten man at Liverpool. The Budapest-born keeper has made just two Premier League appearances since being signed by the Reds and the 30-year-old is clearly frustrated by the lack of opportunities he's been afforded at Anfield. What does the future hold for the Hungarian stopper?

Source: EFL Transfers Brasil via Twitter

Bogdan started his career at Vasas but failed to break into the first team. In 2007, he surprisingly moved to Bolton Wanderers where he clocked up over 100 appearances for the Trotters and featured 21 times in the Premier League. One of the more unexpected moves of the 2015 transfer window saw the Hungarian arrive at Liverpool, becoming the Reds third new recruit of the summer. Originally hired as back-up for Simon Mignolet and a replacement for the out-going Brad Jones, Bogdan was expected to fight for his place between the sticks but has failed to make a Premier League appearance since January 8, 2016.

The addition of Loris Karius hasn't helped Bodgan's chances of making a name for himself in Merseyside and despite Jurgen Klopp seemingly not fancying the Hungarian, he has also found it difficult to secure a loan move away from the club.  The keeper, who has earned 20 caps for his country, had been heavily linked with a temporary switch to Celtic, where he would link up with his former boss Brendan Rodgers but this failed to materialise. As deadline day approached, rumours surfaced that he was on his way across the M62 hoping to tie up a deal which would take him to Leeds United but once again, this failed to get over the line.

Following his howler against Watford in 2015, Bogdan has developed a reputation for dropping clangers on a regular basis but he isn't the only Liverpool goalkeeper who is guilty of such offences. Luckily, the Reds have been extremely effective at the other end of the pitch, which has helped take the pressure off of the goalkeepers. Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah have all impressed and have found the net on a regular basis. The latter is now 11/4 in the football betting markets to finish as this season's top goalscorer in the Premier League. The Egyptian has 23 goals in 27 appearances since joining the club from Roma.

Source: Opta Joe via Twitter

Bogdan's Liverpool career hasn't been helped by a number of injuries which have limited his participation in both the Premier League and FA Cup. His contract with the club expires in 2019 but he is unlikely to stick around for that long. He has been linked with a string of Championship clubs and is unlikely to be short of options. He could also look abroad for his next move. A return to the Hungarian top flight appears unlikely at this stage of his career but a return to his homeland shouldn't be ruled out.

After failing to leave Merseyside in January, he is likely to go in search of future employment once the 2017/18 campaign has concluded. At 30-years old, Bogdan may not get many more chances to represent his country and desperately needs to put himself back in the shop window and impress new manager Georges Leekens.

Bogdan's career has stalled and his next move is absolutely essential. He will need to find the perfect club who are able to work with him on restoring his reputation for being a dependable and talented keeper. He must select his next employers extremely carefully and if he can remain fit and command the number one jersey, his frustrating spell at Liverpool will soon be for