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Fidesz Politicians Liken Kneeling Before Kick-off to Nazi Salute

Hungary Today 2021.06.14.

Both Fidesz MP Péter Hoppál and Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch think that the Hungarian team refusing to take the knee before kick-off is comparable to refusing to do the Nazi salute before football games during World War II.

Both Péter Hoppál and Tamás Deutsch shared a meme that has been in circulation for days now. One of the two images in the meme depicts the English team before a match against Germany in Berlin in 1938 as they are doing the Nazi salute. Meanwhile, another shot from 1940 taken at the Germany-Hungary match shows that only the German team used the gesture, while both the entire Hungarian national team and the Belgian referee had refused to do so.

Hoppál, a former cultural state secretary, then captioned the meme with:

The Hungarian footballers also refused to raise their arms for the Nazis. And now they refuse to kneel for the liberal fascists. That’s it. GO HUNGARIANS!”

Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch, who is of Jewish origin, similarly posted the meme and followed the same line of thinking:

Eighty-three years ago, the English national football team, yielding to the spirit of the age, showed the Nazi salute in Berlin before a national team match, and a few days ago the Irish national football team, yielding to the spirit of the age again, knelt in solidarity before a national team match,”

reads the Fidesz founder’s Facebook post. The MTK president then explained: “For 80 years the Hungarians have and will stand at attention during the anthem.” “No salutes, no kneeling. Respect. That’s all,” he concluded.

These statements came on the heels of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s words on Thursday, when he labeled the Irish players’ kneeling gesture a “provocation” and sided with those fans who booed and whistled at the players for it.

The Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) announced its decision last Tuesday that Hungarian players wouldn’t take the knee before kick-offs at the EURO.

Kneeling is Not Sign of Provocation but of Respect and Solidarity - Irish Embassy Responds to Orbán
Kneeling is Not Sign of Provocation but of Respect and Solidarity - Irish Embassy Responds to Orbán

PM Orbán accused the visiting players of “provoking” their hosts and failing to understand Hungarian culture, and sided with the protesting fans.Continue reading

It was American football (NFL) player, Colin Kaepernick, who started kneeling during the national anthem back in 2016, in protest of police violence against African-Americans in the US. The action gained new momentum last year after the death of George Floyd, alongside the strengthening of the Black Lives Matter movement.

featured image: Tamás Deutsch; via Balász Mohai/MTI