See No Evil

DownloadedFile-1During a football match between rival Budapest teams MTK and Ferencváros on August 17, fans of the latter club held up a long banner for a period of five or six minutes during the second half reading “In Memoriam László Csatáry” (source in Hungarian). 

László Csatáry, who died at the age of 98 on August 10, was condemned to death by a people’s court in Košice, Czechoslovakia in 1948 for war crimes committed in 1944 while serving as the commander of the Jewish ghetto in the city, which was at the time part of Hungary. The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center discovered Csatáry living in Budapest in 2012, the year he rose to number one on the organization’s most-wanted list of Nazi war criminals. Authorities in both Hungary and Slovakia were preparing to retry Csatáry for the crimes for which he was found guilty in absentia after having fled to the west following the Second World War.

On August 21, the Ferencváros football club issued a statement apologizing for the “indignation” that the banner had caused, characterizing the episode as a “political provocation” (source in Hungarian). 

László Csatáry

László Csatáry

On August 22, The Hungarian Football Federation fined Ferencváros 800,000 forints (EUR 2,670) for the incident (source in Hungarian).  

On August 23, Ferencváros Chairman Gábor Kubatov, who also serves as a Fidesz National Assembly representative, announced that he would give those responsible for displaying the banner 72 hours to turn themselves in before launching his own investigation (the ultimatum resulted in no leads, but did produce a popular pro-banner Facebook group called Mi Voltunk [It Was Us]).

On August 26, the Simon Wiesenthal Center called upon the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to ensure that the Hungarian Football Federation “adopt its zero-tolerance measures” toward manifestations of racism at football matches in Hungary, endorsing the precedent of taking points away from teams as punishment for racist behavior among spectators (source in English).

A football match played on national television in the largest stadium in Hungary. A sign that could be seen clearly in the stands during the broadcast expressing sympathy for the man who in the last year became the living symbol of persecution of Jews in the country during the Second World War. 

What did Prime Minister Orbán, his government and his party have to say about the matter?

Nothing.

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