The Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism was held in Jerusalem for the seventh time. This topic has been a priority in the life of Ferencváros for years, and last November, the club joined the initiative of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) and adopted its definition of antisemitism. On behalf of the association, club president Gábor Kubatov gave a speech at the event, emphasizing that this topic is extremely important to him — writes Nemzeti Sport
„I have to emphasize that this topic is dear to me,” began the president of Ferencváros, Gábor Kubatov.
“It is important to know that Fradi has a very big social impact, 10 million people live in Hungary, and more than 2 million of them support Ferencváros. As a result, it matters what FTC stands for. We have stated earlier what we think about exclusion and antisemitism.
We’ve also said that in sports, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, nor your background, your religion, or whether you’re poor or rich.
On the field, opponents are equal to each other, and this is how it should be in life as well. We have rules, which we follow consistently, and actions have consequences. That is why we have a very strict stadium access system. If someone commits a crime here, I want to know their name and where they live, and then I don’t want to let them into the stadium again. From the outside, this seems simple because that’s how it should be everywhere. Our ultras boycotted the team for three years; 1,500 fans protested in front of my house, and even my family was threatened, but that did not change my opinion, it only confirmed that this is the path we have to follow.”
The president also spoke about what previous incidents led them to decide to tighten their system.
“Ten years ago, a swastika flag was brought to the stadium; nine years ago a fan hung a totenkopf-patterned banner; and eight years ago, a man named László Csatáry, leader of the Kassa (now Košice) death camp, was memorialized. After these incidents, we called on the perpetrators to report themselves and take responsibility. Back then, the club was not in a position to identify the perpetrators.
After that, we introduced the most stringent measures, which I think are unprecedented in Europe.
We have access with a club card and a vein scanner, which is extremely secure. ”
Gábor Kubatov said that the Ferencváros – Maccabi Tel Aviv Europa League qualifiers (1–1) held on 12 July 12, 2018, were found to be a great opportunity to remember István Tóth-Potya [ed. note: executed by the Arrow Cross in 1945].
Kubatov has been the President of Ferencváros for 10 years and has fought against exclusion from the moment he was appointed. At the request of Nemzeti Sport, the press department of Ferencváros Sports Club issued the following statement:
“After the alarming events of the 1990s and 2000s, it is understandable why Ferencváros Sports Club was the first Hungarian sports association to stand up for the fight against exclusion after the election of Gábor Kubatov as president from 2011. The club launches a campaign every year and shows in every possible forum what tools it uses to combat exclusion. That’s why the FTC participated in a two-day online conference organized by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the seventh Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, which held a roundtable discussion on the sport. FTC reported on its work of recent years, together with two Champion League-winning clubs, Chelsea and Dortmund. Ferencváros was founded by Gábor Kubatov, President, and board member Gusztáv. In his presentation, the FTC President outlined what Ferencváros has done to combat exclusion in recent years.”
“There is a very good relationship between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Fradi, and we took advantage of this to remember the Hungarian hero István Tóth-Potya in an official match. He saved hundreds of Jewish people from the death camp, including many famous actors. When the Germans withdrew from Budapest, he was shot in the head on the last day. István Tóth-Potya was an excellent footballer and later a great coach.
Together with the Tel Aviv team, we remembered the hero. Since then, he has also received a memorial plaque in the Budapest Synagogue, which is the largest synagogue in Europe. And in the days to come, he will be nominated to be recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.”
It was revealed at the conference that Ferencváros recently worked to acquire an Israeli national to be on the team.
“The best campaign is to be able to bring in a player who can oppose exclusion. This year, among other things, we were working to bring an Israeli national team player to Fradi, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out. ”
Gábor Kubatov is glad that more and more women and children have been seen in the stands of the Groupama Arena lately as well.
“As our infrastructure has evolved, so has our fan culture. In Hungary, with the help of a state program, the stadiums of all first- and second-class teams were renewed. I am convinced that in a higher-quality environment, people behave differently. Barely any women and children went to the old stadiums, and now they account for 20 percent of the fans. This is very important to us, as the later Fradi generation is insured. The new stadiums already have a serious camera system, and the arenas are governed by strict laws, just as they are in England. Lastly, I believe the best campaign is to have players on the team from a nation that many are prejudiced against.
If we ask the Fradi fans today who the top three players on the team are, most would say three football players with colored skin.
At our club, it doesn’t matter if you have colored or white skin.”