Last updated: 21 August, 2012

Hungary condemns anti-Semitic chants at Israel game

Hungary on Tuesday condemned the behaviour of fans who chanted anti-Semitic slogans at a recent international friendly against Israel, but said it could do little to prosecute the culprits.

“The Hungarian government deeply condemns the behaviour of the football fans who disturbed the dignity of the friendly Israeli-Hungarian football match on August 15,” its press office said in a statement.

Fundamental human rights were protected under the constitution and “the government… is determined to counter-act any discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity”.

However, “the extremist behaviour is not in direct contradiction with the law, therefore there is no legal ground for the authorities to immediately take action,” added the government.

Israel’s Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that Hungarian football fans had “shouted anti-Semitic slurs and jeered when the Israeli national anthem was played” during a friendly game in Budapest on August 15 that ended 1-1.

A video posted on YouTube also showed fans turning their backs to the pitch during the Israeli anthem, while booing and whistling — and according to the Jerusalem Post, shouts of “filthy Jews” and “Buchenwald,” a former Nazi death camp — could be heard.

Hungary’s football federation (MLSZ) has said it will investigate the incidents at a meeting on Wednesday.

MLSZ president Erik Banki, also a deputy for the ruling Fidesz party, told the weekly HVG online that “such behaviour is unacceptable not only in a stadium but anywhere else”.

Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Hungary recently, with renewed tributes to the country’s wartime leader, an ally of Adolf Hitler, and the rehabilitation of certain anti-Semitic writers.

In May, Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel even returned Hungary’s highest honour because of what he called a “whitewashing” of history.