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Ultimatum for Csatáry-honoring Ferencváros fans

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After Ferencváros FC (FTC) was levied with an HUF 800,000 fine by Hungarian Football League (NB) authorities, club president Gábor Kubatov got serious with fans who had incurred the club’s fine for waving a banner in memoriam of convicted Nazi war criminal László Csizsik-Csatáry at a match against MTK. 

In the home match of August 17, a group of fans held up a large banner which read simply “In Memoriam Csatáry László” in what was thought to be an intimidating tactic against MTK. MTK has often been identified as a Jewish club and have been noted rivals of FTC since the 19th century. Csatáry (a.k.a. Csizsik-Csatáry) died in hospital at age 98 on August 10th while under house arrest for conviction by a Slovakian court for crimes perpetuated in the World War II era.

Late on Friday, Kubatov posted a video message to YouTube which was passed on by other local media outlets exhorting those Fradistas who toted the offending banner to “be brave, stand up and just say ‘It was us.’ I would ask them not to hide behind their scarves, their fellow fans and the club, but to assume responsibility” for the act. The club president reminded that the incident could lose FTC players, sponsorship deals and even the right to compete in international tournaments.

Kubatov set a 72-hour deadline – or until Monday evening – for the guilty parties to step forward or for information on their identities before beginning an examination of recordings from the stadium’s video surveillance from the match.

The club apologized publicly with a statement which read in part, “We are sorry for the provocation that took place during the match between Ferencvaros and MTK, which was carried out by a handful of fans who violated the spirit of our 114-year-old club as well as the spirit of our supporters.” In responding to fans on the official FTC website, club officials stated that “We can only repeat that any [political or racist] remark or action, hidden or overt, has no place on the pitch.”

Hungarian soccer is unfortunately no stranger to such incidents. Earlier this month, Watchdog organization FARE reported a pair of Hungarian football fan groups to club governing body UEFA: Cited were Győr supporters who at a home match taunted Maccabi Tel Aviv with anti-Semitic chants and Nazi gestures, and Honvéd fans attending a Europa League match in Vojvodina who levied “monkey chants” at Cameroon’s Aboubakar Oumarouin and called other opposing players “homosexuals.”

Fines assessed to FTC in this season alone by world soccer governing body FIFA totaled $300,000 through March, and a World Cup qualifying match against Romania in Budapest was played before an empty stadium, “thanks” to fans singing anti-Semitic chants and waving Iranian flags in a national-team match against Israel in August 2012.

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