Referring to a recent Hungary-Ireland friendly in Budapest, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said bending the knee on the pitch under the name of fighting racism was “alien to Hungarian culture”. “I don’t symphatise with it at all.” There was “no room” for such gestures on sports fields, he said. “Sports is about something else.” In a Hungarian context, bending the knee “is allowed or expected in three cases only: before God, the homeland, or if you’re proposing to someone.” Football players “aren’t expected to kneel but to fight and win, and if they don’t succeed, die standing,” Orbán said, adding that such gestures had been invented by countries with a past of slavery. “The burdens of that past should be dealt with those nations themselves; peoples who had no slavery cannot help out with that,” the prime minister said.
Answering a question about Hungarian fans hissing at the Irish players bending the knee, Orbán said “once you are a guest in a country, try and understand its culture and don’t provoke the locals.” The Hungarian fans reacted to the “provocation” as they usually react, “not always in the most elegant way”, Orbán added.