Viktor Orban: Football & ‘Tax Secrets’ in Hungary

Viktor Orban: Football & ‘Tax Secrets’ in Hungary

Hungarian football no longer enjoys the reputation
it once did. Even now, its strongest association remains the Mighty Magyar side
that humiliated England in 1953 and humbled the Three Lions into an ideological panic.
Hungarian football obviously hasn’t all been doom and gloom since that remarkable
performance 66 years ago, the very next year they reached a World Cup final, but since
the revolution of 1956, footballing high points have been few and far between.
1986 was the last time Hungary qualified for a World Cup. At club level, since the birth
of the Champions League in its current form,
Hungarian sides have taken part in the group stage just twice.
And yet, football’s popularity within Hungary has never waned. The focus of that interest
may have changed – Hungary’s top flight has an average attendance of just 2,733, less
than League Two in England – but the game still remains as popular as ever.
Nevertheless, the memory of that wonderful Mighty Magyar side continues to provide an
inconvenient context, serving to illustrated just how sharp the country’s decline in
the years since has been.
That nostalgia, that willingness to do better and be good again, has great resonance in
the Hungarian conscience and Viktor Orban, the
country’s Prime Minister of the last nine years, knows that better than anyone.
Nostalgia is a key commodity within the nationalist playbook and Orban, just like Jair
Bolsanaro and Donald Trump, can vouch for its effectiveness. Moreover, nostalgia is
Orban’s speciality, as revealed during the‘Migration Crisis’ of 2015, when Budapest found
itself at the centre of a continent-wide controversy. Orban tapped into the nation’s emotion with
provocative rhetoric, referencing Hungary’s long held Christian faith and evoking stories
of the past when Hungary was, in his words, “the first defensive line” against the
Ottoman Empire. Or, quite simply, the “Muslim invaders.”
Such nostalgia has had a political effect in Hungary, but it’s also had a profound
influence in football, too.
Orban himself was a decent footballer who floated around Hungary’s fourth and the
fifth tier, but since retiring from the game in
2005, Orban has combined his love for football and politics. Indeed, 14 years on and nine
years since returning to Prime Ministerial office,
the Hungarian football landscape right now is saturated by Orbanism.
Four years into Orban’s second Premiership, the Honved chairman George Hemingway
declared that, “Hungarian football would be dead without him.” Now, following
Hemingway’s sale of Honved this month, 11 out of the 12 clubs in Hungary’s top division
are owned by a direct governmental ally. The most interesting of those is Puskas
Akademia, a first division club who are not actually linked to Ferenc Puskas, and not
even based in the city of his birth, but who still
bare his name. In fact, the club is actually based in Felcsut,
the city of Orban’s birth and on land that Orban himself sold to fund the academy. The
club didn’t really get any traction during its
first few years, but when Fidesz, Orban’s party, looked set to win re-election in 2009,
Orban formed a partnership with Videoton (now MOL Vidi) which saw a number of academy
graduates move to the then second-tier club. Now in 2019, Puskas Akademia boast one of
Europe’s most beautiful stadiums and have already produced footballers who have moved
to Barcelona, Werder Bremen and Freiburg. But it is more than just a football club.
It is now Orban’s symbol of power and the headquarters of a contentious dream.
Since 2010; Puskas Akademia, Debrecen, Ferencvaros, MTK Budapest, Haladas, MOL Vidi,
Kisvarda, Mezokovesd, and Disogyor have all had decadent new stadiums built, while the
new 68,000-seater national stadium, the Puskas Ferenc Stadion, will open later this year
in Budapest. During this time, a host of new academies
have cropped up from Szombathely to Csíkszereda, a Hungarian minority town in
Romania. Indeed, over €70m has been spent on
football academies in Hungarian minority towns in Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine,
Croatia and Serbia, while the Romanian and Slovakian top divisions both house a Hungarian
minority side. In total, approximately €1 billion of public money has been spent on
Hungarian football since 2010. Orban is a smart man, he knows how patriotic
and proud his people are, and he knows what moves them emotionally. Though the “football
first” policy is far from his most popular strategy, Hungarians do have a burning
desire to see the Hungarian football team become more prominent on the world stage again.
Furthermore, investing in the infrastructure within Hungarian minority towns in
neighbouring countries has been government policy since Fidesz’s change to the Hungarian
Citizenship Law in 2011, which now allows descendants of those who were Hungarian
citizens before 1920 or during 1941 to 1945 to acquire Hungarian citizenship and vote
in elections. Over 750,000 people had applied
by last count in 2015, which means 750,000 more people almost exclusively voting for
Fidesz. In the background, Orban, through football,
has built a base and a network at home and across central and Eastern Europe – his
very own cast of oligarchs. Orban keeps them loyal
by providing his favoured few with enormously inflated state construction project
contracts which are funded by the EU, with the profits then shared with said oligarch
and the ruling party.
The contracts to construct Hungarian football stadiums and academies are an example of
this, and for investors they come with the added incentive of a tax return programme
– named TAO – which was set up in 2011. Between
2011 and 2014, when the figures were less opaque, the owners of the Hungarian football
clubs received over €250m from these contributions.
“The system of corporate tax-breaks for those promoting sport ensures the possibility
of attracting substantially greater funds into
spectator sports, football included,” is the
wording on the Hungarian FA’s website. Since TAO passed through parliament in 2011,
the legislation has faced fierce criticism, not least because, since 2016, the information
related to contributions made through the TAO program is classified as a ‘tax secrets’
and is therefore not accessible to the public. In 2015, a non-governmental organisation called,
‘Transparency International Hungary’ issued a report which warned against serious
corruption risks posed by the TAO contribution system. The suspicion raised
by Transparency International was that the “contributions may be made to sports clubs
tied to politicians in exchange for the donor being awarded lucrative public procurements.”
12% of the €250m spent within the first three years of the programme went to Puskas
Akademia, Orban’s pet project, who are owned by his ally Lorinc Meszaros.
Back in 2007, Meszaros’ sole company, Meszaros & Meszaros, was teetering on the edge of
bankruptcy, yet as a Felcsut native he was given the keys to Puskas Akademia by Orban,
and ever since the pair have been commercially inseparable.
Fast forward 12 years, and Meszaros is now Hungary’s richest man owning over 100
businesses along with over 200 television and media outlets, including Hungary’s sports
daily Nemzeti Sport and all the regional newspapers in 12 of Hungary’s 19 counties, giving
Orban a megaphone to broadcast his rhetoric. Over 80% of Meszaros’ wealth has come
from ‘winning’ EU funded state projects. In the eyes of Hungarians, Meszaros is Orban’s
yes-man, but it’s not limited to Meszaros, he’s just the biggest name. It’s everywhere
in Hungarian football. To any straight-thinking person, investing so heavily in the sport
must look absurd, and that’s because it is.
Hungary isn’t a wealthy country. Right now over 25% of Hungarians are threatened by
poverty while only ten countries in Europe have a lower life expectancy, with Hungary
spending nearly 3% less in GDP terms on healthcare compared to the rest of the European
Union. Sine joining the EU in 2006, 600,000 Hungarians
have left the country. Many of these are skilled professionals and Doctors, who in
Hungary are paid the least of all the 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development. United Nations projections estimate that there will be 15%
fewer people in Hungary by 2050. It’s obvious that so much public money shouldn’t
be spent on Hungarian football yet investing in healthcare doesn’t consolidate
power. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t galvanise nationalist fervour either. Viktor Orban knows
what does.

100 thoughts on “Viktor Orban: Football & ‘Tax Secrets’ in Hungary

  1. Startling similarity with our very own semi-dictator, Erdoğan, who is an exfootballer who loves nostalgia.

  2. Hey Tifo Football, you remember that player Goran Pandev that won La Tripletta with Jose Murinho's Inter in 2010? Well, he founded a football club in his home town that year, and few days ago they won the national cup title and qualified for Europa League qualifiers 🙂 Check the story out, I find it quite inspirational 🙂

  3. I was about to ask you to do a video on the state of Bulgarian football, until I realized it would be the same video, just with different pictures and names. Football in Eastern Europe is in a tragic state of corruption, sadly

  4. I almost wish this was more a politics channel when you get to topics like this because it seems odd to me to talk about Orban without mentioning antisemitism or being at least being unapologetically antifascist when talking about him. But also, what's up with these right wing strongmen having been mediocre footballers? There's gotta be more than just Erdogan and Orban. I wanna collect them all!

  5. Tifo’s style of journalism fused with their wide range of topics and the production style has truly taken on its own genre. Simply the best alternative football source out there.

  6. How can a Football analyst see the Hungarian politics so loud and clear, yet our citizens can only be blinded by the so called "migrant danger" (which is non-existant). Thank you for doing this research! If I had time I would translate it to Hungarian, hopefully someone else will do it before me, and it can be shared with Hungarians who doesn't speak English.

  7. That's why we call our system 'Focializmus'(=football+socialism). Great video, thx for that. Anyways we joined EU in 2004 and not in 2006.

  8. You need to pick on countries that have REAL problems. Hungary is not one of these….and by the way SOROS is Hungary's richest man.

    This is Soros spitting venom at countries he doesn't like. Leave the Hungarians to get on with their lives. Stop putting them down. I live in Budapest 3 months out of every year… I have spoken to many of the people and they are very happy with their country. This feeling is born out by the overwhelming number of votes Victor Orban and his Fides Party get in every election. Hungarians are now returning home and the country is doing very nicely. And, they are still able to walk the streets at night without being attacked and robbed by Diversity.

  9. 1 Billion of Public Money on football… yet not willing to spend a penny on help for refugees. As long as Orban is president I hope Hungarian clubs will fail.

  10. Social conservative politician makes himself and his friends as rich as possible while telling the fucking idiots who voted for him that people who look different or think differently are the source of all the problems the country is facing?
    It's fucking funny and depressing how common this is across all continents

  11. Hungary – economy doing well, birthrate and marriage rates climbing, some of the safest cities in Europe.. TIFO pumping out "Orange Man Bad" levels of propaganda here. Shame on you

  12. Very moving , however if I was ill and I’d need medical care I’d still rather be a patient in Hungary than in the uk or in the us for that matter. There’s growth in Hungary the biggest gdp growth in the whole of eu right now actually. Orbán gets things done that’s why he’s been re-elected three time in a row with a super majority.

  13. And that pretty much sums it up. Well done, Tifo football!
    Too bad Hungarian football is just as rotten and toxic an environment as Hungarian politics, so more money in will only produce more garbage out. The first team of the so called academy is filled with overpaid C level journeymen from neighbouring countries. Meanwhile you can buy your own toilet paper if you're hospitalised.

  14. Foci es politika nem megy egyutt. Magyarorszag sajnos nagyon rossz helyzetbe van. Orban a legjobb a rosszok kozul. Magyar testveriem, tovabb jottunk ezen.

  15. Subscribed for the football, unsubscribed because of the politics. It's pathetic guys.
    I mean it's a good video but looking at the comments you favourite, it shows your true colours. Leftist propaganda.

  16. I hope Hungary get back to being one of the powerhouses of world football someday, the Mighty Magyars deserve to rise again!

  17. Never thought that I'm going to watch stuff like this on youtube. Thank you very much, as a Hungarian. Also Lőrinc Mészáros was Orbán's
    childhood friend. As we say it in Hungarian: "Stadions instead of hospitals!"

  18. Orban legalize corruption, and spend all our taxes and EU money to useless things… Great video. Thanks 🙂

    Orbán= modern dictator

  19. Half of these information is lies, from the Open Soc. Fundation. This NGO try to made everything in the last 10 years to destroy Orban's prestige. Propaganda.

  20. Could you please do a video about the league of Ireland (Republic)?. Us Irish love football but our national league isn't in good shape. I loved your video on Patrick O Connell.

  21. The story at begining is same for Poland, we had successes before communism fall and everything fall apart after it and people forever live with nostalgia, Euro 2016 was best thing that happen to poland for.long long time.

  22. Can you cover the Mexican league, Liga Mx. Shady league I love it and hate it. If a team is relegated they can pay to continue in their current division. Also teams in the second division can win the promotion but be unable to play in the first division if they're lacking requisites. So they remain in second division lol. Strange huh Lol

  23. "transparency international"?!?!? yeah right, because NGO's are the trusted ones… who are you to be speading this B.S about our country? (loads of lies and twisted half information..) You just mind your own business and "problems" in your country (there is enough…)..("oooh according to transparency international",, only a full libtard uses these false NGO datas.. which clearly hate and only attack conservative right-wing goverments…disgusting video–

  24. As a Hungarian: congratulations, very accurate! I've been following your channel for a while, I was surprised that your new video is about Orbán. There were even some interesting parts for me, despite following my home country''s news. And yes, as someone else wrote: very absurd that now there are old, foreign players at Puskás Akadémia.. and despite of all money in the world, every year, they are struggeling with relegation from the top division. In fact, they relegated once 😀

  25. I live in Romania,10 miles near the hugarian based city wich has a team in our first flight. I can tell you that, despite the fact that the team indeed recieves funds from Hungary, they are not associated by any means with the Hugarian gouvernement. They have no hugarian footballer in their squad, they just want to have good results and that's why the team in curently one of the best.
    On the other hand, an ivestigation made by a romanian publication discovered that Cziksereda, the pure hungarian team in our 3rd side is supported entierly by the hungarian authorities and they are not interested is improvement, thei just want to grow footballers for the Puskas club.

  26. Faggy leftists from Tifo talking shit about a man saving western civilization? Would have never expected this

  27. A lot of people are attacking Hungary and Orban due to their hard stance on the EU Migrant Crisis, but no one knows how corrupt Hungary had become under the leadership of Orban. I don’t care about Hungary’s stance on Migration, honestly it’s their own issue, but Hungary’s domestic corruption should be made more widely known

    This is a good video with many fascinating information. Kudos to you, Tito Football.

  28. Imagine if all news outlets delivered their information with the depth, accuracy and objectivity of Tifo?

    Just imagine.

  29. It was an amazing in-depth video, and I can just hope that more and more people will see what the hell is happening in our country.
    PS: Thank you for shining a light on this topic , you cannot believe how long I have been waiting for this video🙏🙏🙏

  30. As a foreigner living in Hungary for 20 years, I can confirm this video to be fact based. Funny, this is about the football, but touches on the politics. My Hungarian wife often complains about Orban building stadiums instead of hospitals and healthcare service went downhill in the last 10 years very much. Exodus of healthcare professionals is a fact. Finding a good specialist is vey difficult and I hear of stories doctors brought from the province to treat some difficult cases, since noone in the capitl has the expertise needed. Average Hungarian struggles to make the ends meet, whereas in Poland (my native country) an average person does quite well and finding a reasonable job is not a problem. It is sad to see Hungary go down economically, when other countries in this part of Europe are doing much better. But keep in mind, this is not solely Orban's fault. Back in 2008 then Prime Minister Gyurcsany was recorded on the MSZP convention admitting that Hugary is in deep financial troubles as a country due to almost 2 decades of MSZP (former Communist party) rule. So, this corruption and cronism did not start with Fidesz. It worked like this during the Communism and it continued after the system change. When Orban came to power Hungary was already in deep shit and it was created by the MSZP rule. MSZP actually created conditions for Fidesz to win and Orban simply continued the same political style used by other parties. But even if a miracle happened and somebody else would win the election, the situation would most likely stay the same and another lucky guy would suck the country's resources for their own gain. My wife's opinion is that without some sort of popular uprising (similar to the Yellow Vests) there is no way this corrupt system will ever change and even my parents-in-law in their 70's share this sentiment. The point I am making is that the elites are corrupt all over the world and they do not show any care for the populations they rule over and this will eventually lead to some sort of uprising.

  31. 1 billion euro since 2010 is 110 million a year out of 120 billion.
    That's less than 0.1% of the GDP. And yet the hysteria around it is half of the opposition's rhetoric.
    "Imagine what we could have if we didn't build stadiums!"
    Yeah, I imagined it. Not a lot.

  32. I love this channel a lot it’s really good. I was hopping one day Tifo could do a video on UAE football either the league or the national team because I think the golden generation of the last decade has had an interesting journey despite not getting that much international recognition.

  33. You guys have a great series. Could you do one on Sergio Aguero? Maybe how he's evolved from Atletico to Manchester City. Thanks

  34. Please do a Valencia video on how they managed to turn their season completely around, getting the CL spot and winning the copa del rey. All in their centenary year!

  35. two things:
    – since your resarch, Meszaros' media outlets and all 0rban friendly media is "donated" (true, one one day, several """"""""""independent"""""""""""""" (formally, of course) media owners donated their business, as absurd as you can imagine) into a giant media foundation called KESMA (Central European Press and Media Foundation). Lead by 0rban friendly and 100% pro-fidesz personnel. Now, approx. 500 media outlets are belonging here, ALL regional newspapers, daily newspapers, radio stations, magazines, almost everything what is published in hungarian.
    – viewer numbers are often and very heavily manipulated, and made up numbers are published. that 2733 average could not be correct (imho).

  36. haha what an overdramatic emotional non-sense lying garbage leftist propaganda coming from a football channel i once loved and watched mainly for the great videos on advanced tactics of some clubs and coaches and just generally good content, concerning FOOTBALL. After watching this, finally i can unsubscribe. See ya beta males!

  37. I can't believe it took me 3 rewatches to get to this question – but who IS that 1 out of 12 clubs which isn't owned by the political allies?

  38. Watching this after coming back from a holiday in Budapest… my tour guide said many of these things that they mentioned in this video, Tifo have done their research for sure

  39. Quite proper video with the details being accurate with one exception: Hungary joined the EU in 2004. Just a minor thing the video highlits quite important points thank you for making it!
    Whenever I will try and explain the situation to someone I will just show this video to the person.
    Greetings from Hungary

  40. Haha, look at your left liberalist whisperers from Hungary told you to make a fake video, and you does bravely. Go and fck yourself up with thiese fake lies, you know nothing about the background of the hungarian politics and society. Take care about your Londonistan and Birmingham, and the nearly third world shitholes around Englistan, we will see who will laughing last time….You are on the edge of a civil war mfcker, and you pointing your fingers to other countries??? The world "oligarch" absolutely fake, in Hungary nobody is an oligarch. All the business was legal, EU controlled everything, and very funny your type of libtards never cried out, when between 1990 and 2010 only the foreign companies won tenders and projects in Hungary! it was okay for you, to stealing all the profit out from Hungary, but now you crying as hell because this profit partially staying in the country through some hungarian businessmen, as Meszaros. Uppish globalist dickheads, your time is over, Trump will be voted again, and you would cry in your poor, Bangladesh like neighbourhood in Englistan 😁

  41. The content is fake, sponsored by some liberalist propaganda. Moved the less people from Hungary to work in the EU in the region. All the other stuff is fake bullshit, Meszaros keeping the profit in the country, which through EU founds gone back to foreign EU companies earlier! All the stadiums Orban built was ca. 1% of the one year hungarian GDP, but it happened through 8 years – this is a ridiculously low coast, nothing to do with the question of healthcare….The video is a liberalist anti-Orbanist propaganda, whispered by some brainwashed leftwing home treator!

  42. 5:10 In Hungary governmental construction contracts are almost always done after a public bidding, which is held according to EU standard laws.

    If these contstruction contract are enormously inflated, then how come Strabag (for example) and other international concerns are offering to work on 10-15% higher costs, and with 10-15% less employed locals (who were payed by government earlier via unemployment support)?

    Unfortunately you read mostly one-sided sources, who are lying just as bad as anyone in politics, it shines through the slur you picked up there. Please look up in the dictionary what it means to be an oligarch, in Hungarian politics it is (wrongly) used to describe a strawperson. With this error they are trying to imply that Hungary is not a functioning democracy (it is!).

    There's only one person who by definition can be described as an oligarch in Hungary today, and he's sitting amongst the opposition side.

  43. Puskas Akademia's stadium is literally next to Orban's countryside house. He built a stadium in his backyard. The state of this country..

  44. you can do same for serbia and our president vucic, his brother and his pet club red star. and fc president ex man from interpol wanted list…

  45. You know the political debate has gone downhill when criticizing a dictator is subject to controversy.

  46. Nice propaganda at the start. Hungary will still be Hungary in 50 years. I couldn't say the same about England or France.

  47. Honestly I’d rather have football struggles as a country then demographic replacement like France. But just my opinion…

  48. This is a very biased video! For example like pointing out Puskás's name in Puskás Academy as not being actually linked with Puskás himself: what is the problem with naming a football academy after your countrys best ever football player, setting him as an example?! And why should the football academy be in the town where Puskás was born?!

  49. Wow i wonder who paid for this video 🙂 😀 Hungary joined the EU in 2006, and people leaving the country for better paid jobs in western EU is not specific to Hungary, but to the whole Eastern Europe. In fact, the situation is much worse in Poland, Romania, the baltic states and Bulgaria. Still a good clickbait video, spreading facts out of context. Not even wondering youtube's main color is red 😉

  50. God bless Victor Orban and Hungary, Hungary is for Hungarians just like Poland is for Poles. Westerners can cry out in Brussels. ^^

  51. It dosn't matter what the subject is of these videos, I'm automatically engrossed as soon as they start.

  52. Please do a video on Oscar Tabarez and his contribution in making Uruguay a footballing powerhouse again.

  53. 1953 was the famous 6 : 3 , you're showing 1954 > 7 : 1 The 1953 game when Hungary beat England 6 : 3 was the famous game. Puskas Ferenc is the most famous player. He played in the Real Madrid too. He still is the top name on the wall of fame in the Real Madrid stadium. He holds records like the most scored goals in one champinship.

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