Sándor Csányi, President of the Hungarian Football Association (MLSZ), said that they are trying to get the map of Great Hungary and the flag with the Árpád stripes accepted by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). In an exclusive interview with M4 Sport, he said that he would not yet declare that these symbols could not be in the stadium, but that he would discuss this with UEFA representatives.
UEFA had recently banned depictions of Great Hungary and the historic Árpád stripes flag at matches it organizes, because it believes they have political connotations and could be provocative. The map of Great Hungary has been objected to by many because it depicts the country’s territory before the Trianon peace treaty in 1920, when most parts of the country had not yet been annexed. After the treaty, Hungary’s borders were changed, and some say that the depiction suggests revisionist views, i.e. the belief that Hungary wants to reclaim its former territories, which is explicitly forbidden in today’s world.
According to the President of the Hungarian Football Association, if Hungary wants to play in the qualifiers for the European Championship, the Nations League, or even the Champions League or Europa League, they must accept the conditions of the competition. UEFA’s regulations state that banners that are racist or carry a political message cannot be displayed. “The question is whether the Great Hungary symbol carries a political message. We do not think so,” said Sándor Csányi, who is also UEFA vice-president.
Csányi noted that although FARE (Football Against Racism In Europe), UEFA’s anti-discrimination group, denies that it would punish the Great Hungary map, its objection to it has been raised three times recently before UEFA’s disciplinary committee. On each occasion the symbol was labeled revisionist and nationalist.
A football fan holding a sign depicting Great Hungary, before Trianon.
The President of MLSZ also spoke about the other emblem objected to by FARE: “the flag with the Árpád stripes is in the Parliament among the historical flags of Hungary, which has been the official flag of Hungary for centuries. It is true that there was a brief period in Hungarian history when it embodied fascism, racism, and was made its symbol. But I think a shorter period should not overwrite a much longer period,” he stated.
“If the fans are so insistent, and I do not think the use of these symbols is as excessive as they are judged, we will try to get UEFA to accept it. But we are not alone in Europe. Fans in neighboring countries may be irritated by this symbol, so we cannot decide independently whether they can be used or not, only at the end of a consultation process,” Csányi said.
The reality is, that the map of Great Hungary is in fact a symbol of national cohesion, as there are many Hungarian communities living beyond the border in neighboring countries. In the same way, it is used in sport as a symbol of belonging and togetherness. As for the symbols being political, they can be in several situations, and using them in everyday life could be deemed nationalist and revisionist, and could hurt Hungary’s picture on the international political field, so they must be used with caution.
On the other hand, however, if UEFA allows anti-racism campaigns and lets footballers kneel before the matches and wear rainbow-colored armbands, which clearly have a political tone, it cannot ban the Great Hungary symbol on “political” grounds, since that would be inconsistent.
Featured photo via Facebook/Hungarian Fanatics