Ferencváros (commonly referred to as Fradi in Hungary) became the first Hungarian football team to make it to the spring part of a European club competition in 19 years. They managed to achieve the feat by winning their group in the Europa League ahead of the French AS Monaco, the Turkish Trabsonspor, and the Serbian Crvena Zvezda. In the round of 16, the draw brought them Bayer Leverkusen from Germany as their next opponent.
As it is a momentous event for famously ferocious Ferencváros fans, around 2,300 of them travelled to the German city of Leverkusen to root for their beloved team in person in the away leg of the match-up on Thursday. Around 1,000 took a special 14-carriage train, chartered specifically for this occasion.
Those 1,000 fans on that train did not have the most peaceful journey.
At the Czech-German border, over 100 German policemen boarded the train and thoroughly searched every passenger and their luggage.
One of the Fradi supporters on board told the Hungarian news site Mandiner: ‘They humiliated us, that’s what all these theatrics were about’; while another fan compared the police conducting the search to the Stormtroopers from the Star Wars films. Meanwhile, the Instagram page fradi.mob claimed in their post that German police told them that, ‘based on video and photo evidence’, the train ‘poses a threat to Germany’.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó had posted to his Facebook page earlier about the trainful of Ferncváros fans heading to Leverkusen. He wrote:
‘The ultras have departed from Budapest, and the Hungarian consuls serving in Germany are awaiting the fans’ arrival in Leverkusen. Two of the seven of our colleagues deployed specifically for this occasion will be greeting them at the train station. We also set up a special phone line for support: +4915754203871. Go, Ferencváros!’
The last time Hungarian football fans visited Germany in droves was in the summer of 2021, when Germany faced off against Hungary in the group stage of the postponed Euro 2020 in Munich. That event was not without controversy either. UEFA did not allow the German Association to light up the Munich stadium in rainbow colours in protest of the Child Protection Act recently passed in Hungary. On the other hand, German authorities did not allow the Hungarian football fans to do their traditional en masse march to the stadium.