Why do Hungarians boo when football players take the knee for BLM?

Children at the June 5 Hungary-England Nations League football match. (Magyar Hírlap/Péter Török)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Why do Hungarians boo players who kneel for Black Lives Matter? The ready-made Western answer to that question is that Hungarians are racists, and the 35,000 children who booed when the English players kneeled yesterday are also racist. Apparently, they learned racism from their racist parents. Racism is contagious, and it is already spreading among Hungarian children.

But is this truly the answer? Is there even minimal effort being put forth to understand the nature of the problem?

I don’t know whether the foreign critics noticed, but there was a Black player on the right wing of the Hungarian national team, Nego. Yet, Hungary has almost no black population to speak of. We essentially like the few who live amongst us, like Nego, and we have neither historical nor present-day conflicts with them. This problem is simply not part of our national history: We never even had colonies.

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Then why do Hungarians boo when the ritual of kneeling begins? Why does this supposedly anti-racist gesture bother our small nation so much? Perhaps it will help outsiders to understand if we take a closer look at what England manager Gareth Southgate said after yesterday’s Anglo-Hungarian match. According to him, it is incomprehensible as to why Hungarian fans protest against kneeling, as “we are trying to educate people around the world.”

Wow, Southgate probably has no idea how bad that sentence sounds, otherwise he would not have said it at all. And that is exactly what bothers the Hungarians — that someone is trying to educate them, that they want to force an ideology on them yet again from the outside, complete with rainbow armbands, kneeling, gender madness, and critical race theory. Hungarians have always come out of these ideological conquests badly, whether they surrendered to them or not.

That is why they are simply annoyed.

The Hungarian rejection is instinctive: “No, don’t bring your problems and the solutions to them into our stadiums! We are neither involved nor interested. Your educational intent equates to nothing more than an irritating imperial arrogance. If you try to educate us, it provokes us, and the more you do it, the more it does so. We will become hardened and proud. If you stigmatize and shame us, we will manufacture our own stigmas. If you punish us because you think we are racists and uneducated, we will fill the stadiums with children, and they will boo in our stead.”

Westerners should finally realize that they do not understand Hungarians. Any real, respectful conversation can only begin after this is first acknowledged.

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