The end of hungary: between melancholy and a sea of tears

The end of hungary: between melancholy and a sea of tears

One of the most beautiful places to Soccer watching in Budapest lies in the middle of the V. District almost directly on the Danube. The restaurant-bar Kiosk attracts an international crowd with its open terrace, big screen and 500 seats. This was already the hotspot at the games of the Hungarian national team at the 2016 European Championships. When the Magyars then reached the round of 16 in a group with Portugal, Iceland and Austria, people celebrated here until dawn. If the same coup had been achieved five years later in a group with Portugal, France and Germany, there would have been no stopping until three or four in the morning. But after the tragic elimination, a touch of melancholy lay over the area with panoramic view.

Those who didn't take a last drink elsewhere with the fans from Portugal and France streaming out of the Puskas Arena into the city could feel the disappointment here after midnight. But the sea of tears poured out on the night of the European Championship farewell not in the trendy hangouts in Budapest, but in the rainy arena in Munich. Here captain Adam Szalai and colleagues cried sometimes bitterly. By the time it dawned on them that they were leaving with their heads held high after three bravura performances and had rekindled their enthusiasm for soccer at home, they were all in a good mood. Basically, only a few minutes were missing to draw against Portugal and win against Germany.

Now against England in World Cup qualifying

That, of all things, goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi ("it's hard to find words"), who had been impeccable up to that point, fluffed; that Szalai's flying header (11.) and the counterattack goal by Andras Schafer (68.) was not enough, had almost tragic features for the brave outsider. When news of the two Hungarian goals in the parallel match between Portugal and France (2:2) spread like wildfire, a canon of cheers erupted. But in the end, coach Marco Rossi had to play the comforter in the distance. "Unfortunately, even the most beautiful stories come to an end at some point," said the Italian, who the day after from the training center in the Budapest suburb of Telki, looking ahead to the World Cup qualifiers, which begin on 2. September against England continues. The next top-class goal for his brave ensemble, which without the injured director Dominik Szoboszlai and without deafening fan support was very close to the sensation, which for older generations would have had the touch of a small World Cup revenge of 1954.

But even so, the team has collected more sympathy points than the boldest optimists at home would have given them credit for. Once again Szalai and colleagues sang the national anthem in front of the ultra-group "Carpathian Brigade", which has attracted attention for its right-wing extremist excesses. Otherwise, the coaches and players stayed away from overly dull symbolism as best they could – they clearly wanted to focus on soccer throughout the tournament, and they did well with it.
There was now also praise for it from the domestic press. "The EM is over for ours. The magic stays with us", found the widely read sports paper "Nemzeti Sport". Under the direction of maestro Rossi, "Nepszava" stressed, the team had risen "from great depths to a level not seen in a long time". With an almost self-sacrificing work ethic, the soccer players also served as a role model for the many student waitresses who are currently slaving away in the heat for eight or nine hours a day in the capital's increasingly crowded public viewing areas for an hourly wage, including tips, of 1,500 forints, the equivalent of not even five euros.

Criticism of Germany's raised index finger

They give a friendly smile to every guest here – no matter where they come from. Among them are many who are critical of the work of the right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his legislation on lesbians and gays, but they would have liked it if the raised finger of blame for the rainbow debate from Germany had not been directed so sweepingly at their home country. Respect should not be a one-way street, some said the same night. However, they would not have felt Schadenfreude if Germany had failed. Many of the well-educated generation like this country far too much for that – and quite a few see their future there.

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