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Failures in football, success in swimming

August 6th, 2013

Both national left-wing dailies compare PM Orbán’s plans to revive Hungarian football to Goulash-communism, the Hungarian version of Soviet-style socialism. The two pro-government newspapers celebrate the victories achieved by Hungary at the swimming world championship in Barcelona.

In Népszava, Jenő Veres criticises Pm Viktor Orbán’s plans to build new football stadiums since the existing ones are already far too big as compared to the few thousand supporters who regularly attend the games. He pokes fun at a statement the Prime Minister made during the weekend, according to which football is like the famous Hungarian goulash soup: you have to add new and new ingredients to it and never take anything out in order to receive the tasty result. According to Veress the tax payers are required to contribute to a soup that will be enjoyed in the end only by those who sit near the cauldron. „Goulash-communism 2.0?”, he asks.

Népszabadság, in its front-page editorial calls the stadium-building project in the Prime Minister’s native village megalomaniac and contends that despite the Prime Minister’s assurances to the contrary; it is not being built from private money, for the sponsors enjoy substantial tax rebates fortheir investments to sports. The game the Prime Minister plays, Népszabadság concludes, „is a Fidesz version of Goulash Communism: Goulash Footballism.”

In Magyar Nemzet, Attila Ballai celebrates the four gold medals Hungary won at the swimming world championship in Barcelona, and remarks that the victory of the water polo team (in Saturday’s final against Montenegro) should serve as a lesson to Hungary’s footballers who have all been eliminated from the European championships in the very first round. Hungary’s polo players were not expected to go further than the semi-finals, but managed to defeat several higher ranking  opponents.

In Magyar Hírlap, Zsolt Bayer complains that Hungary’s female polo team was beaten in the semi-final by “dishonest referees”. He also praises Hungary’s swimming team that won the remaining four golds in Barcelona, with Dániel Gyurta, London’s Olympic champion in the 200 m breast stroke who won his third world championship gold in a row, despite the ‘”base and disgusting gossip” the  leading officials of the Swimming Federation spread about his coach. The president, Tamás Gyárfás, who is also vice-president of the International Swimming Federation, is known for his left-wing connections and used to run a morning television show that was boycotted by the right wing for three years, before it was taken off the air. (Gyurta’s coach was sent home from Barcelona amid clear hints that he had been seen drunk in the team’s hotel.) Bayer remarks that Hungary’s top swimmers would not be any worse off without Gyárfás, whereas the coach’s contribution to their success was vital.

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