Fans of one of Hungary’s oldest football clubs, Újpest FC, have announced a boycott of their team’s matches until the club’s Belgian owner restores the team’s original logo.
Roderick Duchâtelet, son of Roland Duchâtelet, Belgium’s seventh wealthiest man, bought a 95-percent share in the club back in 2011 and has brought the team back from the brink of bankruptcy.
Football runs deep in the Duchâtelet family veins: Roderick’s father, Roland, was until 2015 the owner of top Belgian team Standard de Liège and his wife, Valérie Gys, is the operational and financial director of Újpest FC.
Duchâtelet established a new and seemingly effective player rearing system and fought dozens of legal battles on behalf of the club, but club ultras cannot forgive his one major mistake, which wasn’t even of his own making: changing the club’s traditional logo.
Újpest FC is legally a subsidiary of UTE (Újpesti Torna Egylet), which also has a variety of other sports sections besides football: ice hockey, water polo, women’s volleyball, athletics, wrestling, judo, mud wrestling, flatwater canoeing/kayaking, karate, youth football, boxing, modern pentathlon, shooting, gymnastics, triathlon, swimming and fencing.
When Duchâtelet established the football team’s own player academy in 2015, he created a separate player rearing line from that of the parent club, which are only one fence apart. So it happened that on the ominous day of Nov. 18, 2017, the two separate academies’ under-16 teams faced each other in a fourth league match – scandalously enough, wearing the same colors and logo.
As Duchâtelet had no control or influence over parent UTE, he decided to change the football club’s logo. Ultras, who still cannot stomach the outrage, have demanded his resignation.
Formed in 1885, Újpest reached the first division of the Hungarian League in 1905 and has been relegated only once since then. The club has been a member of the first division for 102 consecutive years and Hungarian champions 20 times. Újpest also won the Magyar Kupa ten times and the Szuperkupa three times.
In international competitions, Újpest are two-time winners of the Mitropa Cup and winners of the 1930 Coupe des Nations. They also reached the semi-finals of the 1973–74 European Cup, the 1961–62 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and were runners-up in the 1968–69 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
Title image: Újpest FC fans brandishing the club’s old logo. (Adrián Petykó, Origo)