Nothing to see: how pro-government Hungarian media reported Wembley violence
Several media outlets in Hungary did not mention – or made very little – of the fans’ clash with police during the game on Tuesday
With the Hungarian president, Viktor Orbán, and his allies owning about 90% of the country’s media it was perhaps not too surprising that much of the press looked to absolve Hungary fans of blame or failed to mention the troubles at Wembley on Tuesday night.
The most pro-government of them all, Magyar Nemzet, led its coverage with an op-ed accusing the English press of “lustfully basking in the behaviour of the Hungarian fans”.
The author also wrote that England fans had fanned the flames by whistling the Hungarian national anthem and told the reader not to forget the crowd troubles seen at the Euro 2020 final and the racism directed at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after the defeat by Italy.
The pro-government Origo led with the headline “Hungarian fans beaten with rubber sticks by the English police”, while similar sentiments were shared by Blikk, Goal and HirTV. The news website 24.hu went with “Hungarian and Polish fans fight with police in the England vs Hungary World Cup qualifiers”, with a similar approach taken by Csakfoci.
The opposition-backed papers HVG and 444 laid the blame squarely on Hungary’s ultras, with HVG’s headline saying “Hungarian ultras clashed with police in Wembley” and 444’s reading “Scandal at Wembley: Hungarian ultras accused of racism and clash with stewards and police in the stands”.
Hungary’s major sports outlet, Nemzeti Sport Online, which is owned by a former government MP, had no dedicated story about the melee, mentioning it merely in passing, and many other outlets did the same or did not mention it at all.
Instead, the media focused on matters on the pitch on a historic night for Hungary. The 1-1 draw was the first time they have played England in England and not lost since the 6-3 win in 1953. The website 888 ran with words to that effect: “Bravo! The Hungarian team are undefeated in England for the first time since 6-3!”
Hungary have been on a torrid run since the European Championship, managing a scrappy 2-1 victory at home against Andorra and losing against Albania twice and England once, 4-0 at home. Hungary had gone to Wembley with little confidence of getting a result.
“Finally a real upset!” read Nemzeti Sport’s print edition. NB1.hu went with “Miracles Do Exist!” while Magyar Nemzet opted for “The honour of the Hungarian national team was at stake and they managed to save it”.
Hungary’s coach Marco Rossi had come under pressure after the run of bad results but there was praise for his efforts in the Hungarian press, as well as for Loic Nego and Peter Gulacsi, who were singled out for their performances.