Explained: The Carpathian Brigade of Hungary football team. What's behind unruly fans?

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Oct 14, 2021, 11:29 PM(IST)

England vs Hungary Photograph:( Reuters )

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FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings looking into the clashes at Wembley, saying it has 'zero tolerance against such abhorrent behaviour'

Chaotic and violent scenes prevailed inside Wembley Stadium in the United Kingdom during the World Cup qualifying match between England and Hungary when dozens of fans fought with baton-wielding police on Tuesday (October 12). 

Just moments after kick-off, trouble flared as a group of Hungary supporters charged at stewards, who were forced to retreat before police wielding batons arrived. 

The fighting continued for several minutes before riot police finally restored order in the stands and the stadium concourse. The incident occurred when police moved in to arrest one Hungary fan for a racist comment to a steward. 

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England v Hungary

Image: World Cup - UEFA Qualifiers - Group I - England v Hungary - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 12, 2021 General view as Police clash with Hungary fans during the match. Source: Reuters.

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The fighting appeared to be instigated by a cluster of Hungary fans. Most of them were dressed in the black t-shirts of the ultras who follow the country - they are known as the Carpathian Brigade. 

Apart from fighting with the police, Hungary's supporters also booed when England players took the knee before kick-off and held up a banner protesting against the anti-racism gesture.

England manager Gareth Southgate said, "I was aware of a disturbance. It sounds like it was not acceptable but I haven't seen the detail."

England defender Tyrone Mings said, "Every time we speak on racial abuse the punishments that follow never seem in line with what has happened. I sincerely hope that if that is the case, the punishments fall in line with what happened this time."

England v Hungary

Image: World Cup - UEFA Qualifiers - Group I - England v Hungary - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 12, 2021 England's Declan Rice and Tyrone Mings take the knee before the match. Source: Reuters.

What is Carpathian Brigade?

Carpathian Brigade is a group of the country's most hardcore fans and ultras drawn from different clubs around the country and its history goes back to 2009, when a political party met ultras groups from Hungary’s biggest clubs and formed black-shirted Carpathian Brigade in an effort to contain neo-Nazi violence on the terraces. They grew bigger and made efforts to bring all fans together with an improved atmosphere to national team games. 

England v Hungary

Image: World Cup - UEFA Qualifiers - Group I - England v Hungary - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 12, 2021 Hungary fans celebrate with flares after Roland Sallai scores their first. Source: Reuters

However, they became trouble when the neo-Nazi element impacted the group. Gergely Marosi, a sports journalism lecturer at Budapest Metropolitan University, told the Guardian, "Only the big matches had a proper atmosphere but the ultras of the clubs did not unite behind the national team or skipped the games altogether." 

"Because these ultras had their conflicts amongst themselves, sometimes they did not stand close to each other, otherwise there was a chance for trouble. That obviously did not help the atmosphere. Chants were disjointed and coming from different sectors; there were a lot of lifeless games in terms of fan performance."

FIFA to investigate

FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings looking into the clashes at Wembley, saying it has "zero tolerance against such abhorrent behaviour".

"Following an analysis of the match reports, FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings in relation to yesterday's England v Hungary and Albania v Poland FIFA World Cup qualifier matches," FIFA said in a statement.

England v Hungary

Image: World Cup - UEFA Qualifiers - Group I - England v Hungary - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 12, 2021 Hungary's Attila Szalai in action with England's John Stones. Source: Reuters.

"Once again, FIFA strongly condemns the incidents at both matches and would like to state that its position remains firm and resolute in rejecting any form of violence as well as any form of discrimination or abuse. FIFA has a very clear zero-tolerance stance against such abhorrent behaviour in football," the statement added. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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