UEFA Champions League
UEFA represents the national football associations of Europe, runs nation and club competitions including the UEFA European Championship, UEFA Nations League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Super Cup, and controls the prize money, regulations, and media rights to those competitions. FC BATE Borisov's progress to the UEFA Champions League group stage is all the more remarkable given that coach Viktor Goncharenko, the former defender who oversees a "partial dictatorship", is. FIFA Soccer 08 [PlayStation, Nintendo DS, Wii, Xbox 360, PC, N-Gage 2 and Zeebo Mobile] featuring on the cover, Wayne Rooney and Ronaldinho.
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UEFA Champions League Edition items can only be found in special reward FUT packs, such as those received for completing Squad Building Challenges. Champions League Participant: 08/09: English Supercup Winner: 08/09: FIFA Club World Cup winner: 08/09: English League Cup winner: 08/09: Champions League Participant: 08/09: Champions League runner-up: 08/09: UEFA Super Cup runner-up: 08/09: English Champion: 07/08: English Supercup Winner: 07/08: English Champion: 07/08: Champions League. The Champions League will feature in FIFA 21 as part of EA Sports' exclusive licensing deal with UEFA.
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This was an extension of the existing convention by which the reigning champions are entitled to display the scudetto on their shirts for the following season. We track goal scorers & halftime football results along with yellow and red cards for every game in the UEFA Champions League. FIFA 2020 FIFA 2020 FIFA 2020 FIFA 2020 FIFA 2020 FIFA 2020 FIFA Manager 2020 FIFA Manager 2020 FIFA World Cup 2020 FIFA World Cup 2020 Football Mania Freedom Fighters Freedom Force Global Operations Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
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To further connect the eChampions League Final to the real-world competition, the eight competitors will draft and use footballers involved in the UEFA Champions League Group Stage. Instead of just charging forward in. The tournament, then called the European Cup, began in 1955/56 with 16 sides taking part.
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The top /r/soccer threads of every Prem/Champ club
First, some stats:
- There are 43 threads in total, as the top result for Tottenham and Burnley is the same thread.
- Out of the 43 threads, 17 are goals, 15 are links to tweets, 5 are other in-play clips, 2 are post-game threads, 2 are links to news sources, there's 1 image and 1 Reddit text post.
- Some users are responsible for more than one club's top thread: paicmhsc (4 - Liverpool, Chelsea, West Ham, Reading), HerbalDreaming (2 - Arsenal and Bournemouth), gemifra (2 - Bristol City and Wigan) and TheJeck (2 - Sheffield Wednesday and Hull)
- 9 clubs' top threads have come this year, the most recent coming just two weeks ago (Sheffield United). 18 came from 2019, 6 from 2018, 8 from 2017 and 2 from 2016, the oldest being May 2016 (Leicester).
- 2 clubs' top threads came on the same day - 1 January 2017. (Crystal Palace and Stoke City). Brighton's top thread also came on 1 January, three years later.
- Goals against or conceded to Manchester United are the top threads for 5 clubs - but not Manchester United. (Fulham, Bristol City, Wigan, Reading, Stoke)
Quick disclaimer: This only applies when the club name has been explicitly mentioned in the title, so it's possible that the club may have a higher-ranking post where they have not been referenced in the title, for example, a goal conceded
85,933 - narangmrinal - 14 Feb 2020
Link to tweet from a journalist announcing City’s ban - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/f3wdvw/breaking_manchester_city_banned_from_champions/?sort=top
Top comment: “We're all living in the coma dream of a Liverpool fan who slipped on some ice after they lost the title race last season” - SnapeWasEvil
Leicester City Are Premier League Champions
72,946 - m3ridah - 2 May 2016
A link to a tweet from the official Leicester Twitter page after their league win was confirmed - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/4hjqun/leicester_city_are_premier_league_champions/
Top comment: “As a die hard Leicester fan since December of 2015 I cannot tell you all how much this means to me.” - coolsmacgee
Real Madrid -1 Liverpool: Bale 64’ (Champions League Final)
48,982 - paicmhsc - 26 May 2018
Bale’s overhead kick goal from the edge of the box (video link removed) - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/8mcpf4/real_madrid_21_liverpool_bale_64_champions_league/
Top comment: “WHAT THE FUCK IS WITH REAL MADRID AND BICYCLE KICK GOALS IN IMPORTANT GAMES” - Jayveesac
Chelsea 1- Liverpool: Sturridge 89’
38,950 - paicmhsc - 29 Sep 2018
Sturridge belts one into the top corner from outside the box (video link removed) - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/9jz7vk/chelsea_11_liverpool_sturridge_89/
Top comment: “what in tarnation” - jwoody000
Tottenham 3-0 Burnley: Son
37,692 - ennuihenry15 - 7 Dec 2019
Son runs the length of the pitch to score (video link removed) - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/e7fmbd/tottenham_30_burnley_son/
Top comment: “What the actual fuck” - Qwikskoup69
Manchester United has announced that Jose Mourinho has left the Club.
34,757 - DarthBlatter - 18 Dec 2018
Link to a tweet from the official Man Utd page confirming the departure of manager Mourinho - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/a79p3u/manchester_united_has_announced_that_jose/
Top comment: “Thank you Klopp, very cool” - SonKaiser
Giroud amazing goal vs Crystal Palace
32,720 - notus_plus - 1 Jan 2017
Giroud backheel-volleys the ball from behind him into the top corner (video link removed) - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/5lfqpu/giroud_amazing_goal_vs_crystal_palace_10/
Top comment: “and he was onside” - Nickool4
Post-Match Thread: Watford 3-0 Liverpool
29,302 - EpicRayy - 29 Feb 2020
Post-Match discussion of Liverpool’s first defeat of the season - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/fbhlw7/postmatch_thread_watford_3_0_liverpool_english/
Top comment: “When you finally decide to sim a game in your FIFA career” - JohnSmackSmack47
Arsenal -1 Leicester City - Aubameyang 66’
28,340 - herbalDreamin - 22 Oct 2018
Video of a well-worked team goal - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/9qhnek/arsenal_31_leicester_city_aubameyang_66/
Top comment: “Ozil could find the Malaysian flight if it made a good run.” - DidYouSayK
Wolves fan hears the commentator
25,485 - Wolard - 16 Mar 2019
Video of a shirtless Wolves fan looking down the camera after the commentator remarks on him - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/b1xqnl/wolves_fan_hears_the_commentato
Top comment: “Haha fucking hell I was hoping this would get posted” - FreeMattyB
West Brom supporter asks for season ticket to be cancelled after team posts anti-racism message. The team replies "You won't be missed."
23,442 - offconstantly - 2 Jun 2020
Link to tweet from club - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/gv763s/west_brom_supporter_asks_for_season_ticket_to_be/
Top comment: "Alright Steve? Not seen you in a while, you still going down the Albion, mate?" "N'ahh, I've asked the club to cancel my season ticket actually mate, now you come to mention it." "No way! Oh, you've been going down the Hawthornes since you were 80 the '80s, what made you ask the club to cancel your season ticket? You lot look like you might be promoted back to the Premier League, so why would you want your ticket cancelled in the middle of all that?" "Well, the club has asked people to not be racist and that, simply put, is a message that I just can't stand behind". What a fucking bellend, he's like the living embodiment of that Stewart Lee routine about "These days, if you say you're English, you get thrown in jail". Also, fuck knows what good a season ticket will do him in the middle of a global pandemic with all games being played behind closed doors.” - TheGoldenPineapples
Post-Match Thread: Southampton 0-9 Leicester City
22,625 - MisterBadIdea2 - 25 Oct 2019
Post-Match discussion of the Premier League’s highest away victory - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/dn3m3postmatch_thread_southampton_09_leicester_city/
Top comment: “….I haven’t seen such mental weakness since my ex bird locked herself in my bathroom and needed two hours of consoling before making a geography presentation to six people. I haven’t seen such bad defending since my ex girlfriend tried to defend making a tinder account “to make friends” to me. I haven’t seen heads drop faster than my ex girlfriend’s head dropped onto the pillow after a night out when she spent the whole walk home talking about she was going to give me the shagging of my life Fuck off Valery, fuck off Vestergaard, fuck off Bertrand, and more importantly fuck off Jessica I thought we had something special.” - TheRalphExpress
Everton ballboy sarcastically clapping towards Jurgen Klopp
21,680 - Tiwarli - 3 Mar 2019
Video of sarcastic ballboys following Merseyside derby - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/awwrjd/everton_ballboy_sarcastically_clapping_towards/
Top comment: “Hazard wants to know your location” - existentialmentalist
Brighton 1-1 Chelsea - Jahanbakhsh 84’
21,118 - digkektzthedream - 1 Jan 2020
An overhead kick into the corner of the net - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/eiipy9/brighton_11_chelsea_jahanbakhsh_84/
Top comment: “So it takes him a whole season to score his first goal and then he scores THIS next game! What a banger!” - Zer0wned1
Chelsea -0 West Ham: Hazard 24’
20,156 - paicmhsc - 8 April 2019
Hazard dribbles through the defence to put Chelsea ahead - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/baxxzv/chelsea_10_west_ham_hazard_24/
Top comment: “i’m sorry what the fuck?” - poetryandpills
An Italian magazine just elected this as the worst 20 seconds of football ever played (QPR v. Man City, 1993)
20,091 - xanthias91 - 12 Jul 2017
A link to a video of a goalmouth scramble - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/6mti2y/an_italian_magazine_just_elected_this_as_the/
Top comment: “I had no expectations but this was decidedly worse than anything I could have expected.” - Eremenkism
In 2015, Newcastle player Jonas Gutierrez recovered from cancer only to learn that owner Mike Ashley was not going to renew his contract. He scored one goal and assisted the other in the final game of the season which kept Newcastle in the Premier League.
19,318 - Ak_Ibrahim - 20 Mar 2020
Video of a Guiterrez goal above a tweet - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/fm2kmt/in_2015_newcastle_player_jonas_gutierrez/
Top comment: “Love Jonás Gutiérrez. Wasn’t always the best player but always played 100%” - RiverPlate11
Wayne Rooney stunning late free kick goal vs Stoke City (1-1)
19,287 - DarkNightSeven - 21 Jan 2017
Video of a free kick from outside the box (video removed) - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/5pbhyk/wayne_rooney_stunning_late_free_kick_goal_vs/
Top comment: “what a fucking way to break it” - jamiew0w
Birmingham fan attacks Jack Grealish
18,535 - keithohara - 10 Mar 2019
Video of a Birmingham fan swinging at Grealish during the Second City derby - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/azf4b5/birmingham_fan_attacks_jack_grealish/
Top comment: “Fucking scum. Life ban, and police charges.” - _hotpotofcoffee
Bournemouth 1-0 Manchester City - Daniels 12’
17,833 - HerbalDreamin - 26 Aug 2017
A powerful half-volley from outside the box - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/6w53t0/bournemouth_10_manchester_city_daniels_12/
Top comment: “WHAT A FUCKING GOAL” - TIProdigy
Norwich squad toast a drink to Barrie Greaves who left £100 in his will to the squad to buy themselves a drink
16,555 - banterray - 10 Jan 2020
Link to tweet from official Norwich Twitter showing the squad toast - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/emx8yw/norwich_squad_toast_a_drink_to_barrie_greaves_who/
Top comment: “Love the idea of someone leaving £100 in their will to people who obviously don't need it, but as a way of showing your appreciation to those who have brought joy to your life.” - whistonreds
Aston Villa have been promoted to the Premier League
15,979 - txrnado - 27 May 2019
A link to a tweet from the official Villa Twitter page confirming their promotion - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/btnlgb/aston_villa_have_been_promoted_to_the_premie
Top comment: “Wolves in Europe, Villa promoted. Hahahahahaiwanttodiehaha” - samyulson
Joe Lolley after winning Nottingham Forest’s Player of the Season Award: "Would also like to sincerely say thank you to absolutely none of my team mates, as this is an individual award, losers."
15,190 - DriesMertens - 3 May 2019
Link to Lolley’s Twitter (page since deleted) - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/bkaukv/joe_lolley_after_winning_nottingham_forests/
Top comment: “My kind of humor.” - Oxfordsandtea
Sheffield United goal not given vs. Aston Villa
14,875 - TomasRoncero - 17 June 2020
Video of Nyland carrying the ball into goal - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/haw6z5/sheffield_united_goal_not_given_vs_aston_villa/
Top comment: “Goal-line technology still in quarantine” - wrdb2007
Arsenal lost 3-2 to Brentford in the behind-closed-doors friendly this afternoon
14,521 - Sleeplessendeavours - 10 June 2020
Link to tweet announcing result - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/h0f1sp/arsenal_lost_32_to_brentford_in_the/
Top comment: “At least they scored. Wolves lost 2-0 to Nottingham Forest yesterday.” - three_shoes
'Champions of England, you'll never sing that', sing the Chelsea fans to Huddersfield who won their first league title 31 years before Chelsea
13,757 - TheodoreLesley - 12 Dec 2017
Link to tweet of journalist reporting on game - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/7jdqja/champions_of_england_youll_never_sing_that_sing/
Top comment: “Give the Chelsea fans a break. Most of them don't know that football existed prior to the early 2000s” - Illneverforgetthis
A plane flying between Nantes and Cardiff has gone missing over the Channel Islands, Cardiff City’s new record signing Emiliano Sala is feared to be onboard
13,570 - pppparf - 22 Jan 2019
Link to news article reporting Sala’s fatal crash
Top comment: “It has been confirmed by AFP News agency that Emiliano Sala was on the small aircraft. Extremely sad news.” - touny71
In L'Equipe today, Gael Givet says Sam Allardyce tried to fire Blackburn’s players up for a game against Man United in 2010 by showing them clips from Gladiator and 300. "We were all like, 'Ahhhhh!' [mimics soldier with sword]. After 30 minutes, we were 3-0 down. We lost 7-1."
11,313 - thelonesomedemon1 - 24 Nov 2019
Link to tweet about Big Sam’s pre-match routine - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/e0won1/in_lequipe_today_gael_givet_says_sam_allardyce/
Top comment: “They played like that bloke with the hump back” - [deleted account]
[OC] I put the 19 Strongest Premier League Teams in History and Derby County’s 2007-08 side in the same League together and simulated 10,000 seasons, these were the results.
10,974 - Tsubasa_sama - 29 Aug 2019
An experiment into how well the lowest-scoring team would do in a very unbalanced league - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/cx0fm2/oc_i_put_the_19_strongest_premier_league_teams_in/
Top comment: “Christ, this is so absurdly useless it's just brilliant. Take 10e41 upvotes.” - frostlips2
BBC text commentator’s thoughts on the Swansea game
9,887 - quietcrisp - 26 Nov 2016
Screenshot of commentary on Swansea 5-4 Palace - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/5f0blj/bbc_text_commentators_thoughts_on_the_swansea_game/
Top comment: “and he finishes with 'It's all over. Truly, truly remarkable - and that's just Cabaye's hair colour.’” - quietcrisp
At this stage of the season, only two teams have had a worse record from set pieces in Premier League history than Marco Silva's Everton - Marco Silva's Hull and Marco Silva's Watford
9,807 - TheJeck - 7 Feb 2019
Link to original tweet stating fact - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/ao1jdx/at_this_stage_of_the_season_only_two_teams_have/
“At what point do you take the hit and hire a set piece coach?” - Haynes_
On this day in 2018 Sheffield United’s Lee Evans scored this incredible goal in a 2-1 win against Middlesbrough
9,553 - _hopelessnobody - 10 April 2020
Video of a one-time volley from outside the box - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/fyd0j7/on_this_day_in_2018_sheffield_uniteds_lee_evans/
Top comment: “so casual” - spaceysht
Garry Monk is the 9th consecutive Sheffield Wednesday manager who wasn't born on a Wednesday. The last one who was, Paul Sturrock, got them promoted.
9,478 - TheJeck - 6 Sep 2019
Link to original tweet with fact - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/d0ihs9/garry_monk_is_the_9th_consecutive_sheffield/
Top comment: “These are the posts I come here for” - kovic_has_a_mangina
Frank Lampard on the Leeds fans song about him: “It’s good fun. Being a Chelsea player there was always a rivalry with Leeds. Didn’t play them that much because we were in the Premier League”
8,975 - oxomeyer - 13 May 2019
Link to original tweet - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/bo4yo8/frank_lampard_on_the_leeds_fans_song_about_him/
Top comment: “He's done us there to be fair, quite funny” - CobiLUFC
Fulham 0-2 Manchester United - Anthony Martial 23’
8,284 - PSGAcademy - 9 Feb 2019
Martial runs from inside his own half to score - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/aos3l1/fulham_02_manchester_united_anthony_martial_23/
Top comment: “How does literally every player looks revitalised under Solskjaer?” - LelouchNexus
Luton Town’s Sonny Bradley with an amazing response to being pushed by Bradford’s Lewis O’Brien. I wish all players would act like this instead of rolling around on the floor!
6,629 - chrislaker92 - 13 Mar 2019
Video of Bradley faking a stumble - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/b0jpua/luton_towns_sonny_bradley_with_an_amazing/
Top comment: “the turkey at the end makes this clip” - minidw
Bristol City -1 Manchester United - Smith 90’+3’ (Carabao Cup - Quarter-Finals)
6,538 - gemifra - 20 Dec 2017
Video of last-minute winner (video link broken) - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/7l4q4h/bristol_city_21_manchester_united_smith_903/
Top comment: “Absolute scenes” - Sdub4
Manchester United 4-0 Wigan - Schweinsteiger 81’
6,105 - gemifra - 29 Jan 2017
Video of a bicycle kick in the 6 yard box (website down) - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/5quxwy/manchester_united_40_wigan_schweinsteiger_81/
Top comment: “Look at that smile! Was kept out of the team for so long and he never complained and worked his way back into the team. Guy is a fucking legend and absolute class. So well deserved” - Savage9645
Rooney goal vs Reading (1-0) - equalises Bobby Charlton all-time goalscoring record at Manchester United with 249 goals
6,012 - paicmhsc - 7 Jan 2017
Video of record-equaling goal - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/5mkau6/rooney_goal_vs_reading_10_equalises_bobby/
Top comment: “Martial's dribble is filth. Butchered these defenders” - [deleted account]
Manchester City cup draws since 2018/19: CL: Lyon, Hoffenheim, Shakhtar X2, Schalke, Tottenham, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta. FA Cup: Rotherham, Burnley, Newport, Swansea, Brighton, Watford. League Cup: Oxford, Fulham, Leicester, Burton Albion, Chelsea, PNE, Southampton and Oxford
6,004 - micoud04 - 31 Oct 2019
Link to tweets summarising Man City’s cup opponents - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/dpkvqb/manchester_city_cup_draws_since_201819_cl_lyon/
Top comment: “They really did get so lucky with that FA cup final draw to get us” - Alpha_Jazz
Tim Cahill re-signs for Millwall at the tender age of 38
5,166 - howOdd93 - 29 Jan 2018
Link to official Millwall page announcing news - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/7tv4wj/tim_cahill_resigns_for_millwall_at_the_tender_age/
Top comment: “With him and Stevie Morrison up front we've got a front two with a combined age of 72. Still I'm absolutely over the moon with this appointment. Complete legend.” - Mc_Diddles
Barnsley CEO sends letter to fan suffering from depression: "You've been a fan for many years and always supported us, so we want you to know if the favour needs returning and we need to support you, let us know"
4,353 - Look_Alive - 14 Aug 2018
Link to tweet from person who received letter - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/977gem/barnsley_ceo_sends_letter_to_fan_suffering_from/
Top comment: “Fantastic gesture from the club. Makes me proud to support this club!” - Infinite_Pug
Charlton Athletic 1- Aston Villa - McGinn
3,544 - Hawksteinman - 27 Jul 2019
A strike from an acute angle in a pre-season friendly - https://www.reddit.com/soccecomments/cij2z7/charlton_athletic_1_4_aston_villa_mcginn/
“This is the most excited I've been for a season as a Villa fan since the Martin O'Neill days.” - moothead2
The truth behind Puskás Akadémia FC - How Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán stole a legend, built a stadium in his backyard and guided his team to Europe
Naturally, political influence in football has been present ever since the dawn of the sport and we know of numerous state leaders who felt confident enough to use their influence to ensure the successful development of their favored clubs – Caucescu’s FC Olt Scornicesti and Erdogan’s Basaksehir are well-known examples of such attempts. However, I fear that very few of the readers are aware of the fact that Puskás Akadémia FC is nothing but Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s grandiose project for establishing his hometown’s club as one of the country’s top teams. Considering that Orbán managed to achieve this goal using state funds in an EU member democracy in the 2000s, one might even say that it might be one of the most impressive attempts of cheating your way through Football Manager in real life. Now that Puskás Akadémia FC escaped the desolate football scene of Hungary and is getting ready for the European takeover, I feel that it’s high time to tell its true story.
Part 1: Part time striker, part time PMOur story begins in 1999 when the 36-year-old striker Viktor Orbán (recently elected as the country’s Prime Minister) was signed by the sixth-tier side of Felcsút FC residing in rural Fejér County. It might sound surprising that an active politician would consider such a side job, but given that Orbán has been playing competitive low-level football throughout his whole life and has always been known as a keen football enthusiast, people seemed to be okay with his choice for a hobby. Orbán spent most of his childhood in the village of Felcsút (population: 1,800), so it seemed only natural that he would join the team after one of his old-time acquaintances became team president there.
Orbán’s arrival to the club seemed to work like a charm as Felcsút FC immediately earned a promotion to the fifth league. The Prime Minister’s busy program did not allow him to attend every training session and game but Orbán did make an effort to contribute as much as possible on the field – there is a report of a government meeting being postponed as Orbán was unavailable due to attending Felcsút FC’s spring training camp. The 2001/2002 season brought another breakthrough for the side as Felcsút was promoted to the national level of the football pyramid after being crowned the champion of Fejér County. Sadly enough for Orbán, he suffered a defeat on another pitch – his party lost the 2002 election and Orbán was forced to move to an opposition role.
No matter what happened on the political playing field, Orbán would not abandon his club. Just before the 2002 elections, Felcsút was surprisingly appointed as one of the regional youth development centers by the Hungarian FA. Orbán continued contributing on the field as well (he had more spare time after all) but his off-the-field efforts provided much more value for the team as he used his political influence to convince right-wing businessmen that they should definitely get sponsorship deals done with the fourth-division village team.
Club management was able to transform the influx of funds into on-field success: Felcsút FC was promoted to the third division in 2004 and achieved promotion to the second division in 2005. Although these new horizons required a skill level that an aging ex-PM is not likely to possess, Orbán regularly played as a late game sub and even appeared in cup games against actual professional opponents. The now-42-year old Orbán did not want to face the challenge of the second division, so he retired in 2005 – but this did not stop him from temping as an assistant coach when the head coach was sacked in the middle of the 2005-2006 season.
Success on the playing field did not translate to political success: Orbán lost the elections once again in 2006. However, this was only a temporary loss: the ruling party committed blunder after blunder and by early 2007 it became absolutely obvious that Orbán would be able return to power in 2010. Now confident in his political future, Orbán opted for the acceleration of football development in Felcsút – by late 2007 he took over the presidency of the club to take matters in his own hands. Sponsors seeking to gain favor with the soon-to-be PM were swarming Felcsút FC, so the club was able to stand very strong in an era where financial stability was a very rare sight in the Hungarian football scene, accumulating three medals (but no promotion) between 2007 and 2009.
On the other hand, Orbán realized the value of youth development as well, and started a local foundation for this purpose back in 2004 that gathered funds for the establishment a boarding school-like football academy. The academy opened its doors in September 2006 (only the second of such institutions in the country) and Orbán immediately took upon the challenge of finding an appropriate name for the academy.
He went on to visit the now very sick Ferenc Puskás in the hospital to discuss using his name, but as Puskás’ medical situation was deteriorating rapidly, communication attempts were futile. Luckily enough Puskás’ wife (and soon to be widow) was able to act on his incapable husband’s behalf and approved the naming deal in a contract. According to the statement, naming rights were granted without compensation, as “Puskás would have certainly loved what’s happening down in Felcsút”. However, there was much more to the contract: Puskás’ trademark was handed to a sports journalist friend of Orbán (György Szöllősi, also acting communications director of the academy) who promised a hefty annual return for the family (and also a 45% share of the revenue for himself). Ferenc Puskás eventually died on 17 November 2006 and on 26 November 2006 the football academy was named after him: Puskás Academy was born.
Orbán shared his vision of the whole organization after the opening ceremony: “It’s unreasonable to think that Felcsút should have a team in the top division. We should not flatter ourselves, our players and our supporters with this dream. Our long term ambition is the creation of a stable second division team that excels in youth development and provides opportunity for the talents of the future.” Let’s leave that there.
Part 2: No stadium left behindOrbán became PM once again in April 2010 after a landslide victory that pretty much granted him unlimited power. He chased lots of political agendas but one of his policies was rock solid: he would revive sports (and especially football) that was left to bleed out by the previous governments. The football situation in 2010 was quite dire: while the national team has actually made some progress in the recent years and has reached the 42nd position in the world rankings, football infrastructure was in a catastrophic state. Teams were playing in rusty stadiums built in the communist era, club finances were a mess, youth teams couldn’t find training grounds and the league was plagued by violent fan groups and lackluster attendance figures (3100 average spectators per game in the 2009/2010 season).
Orbán – aided by the FA backed by business actors very interested in making him happy – saw the future in the total rebuild of the football infrastructure. Vast amounts of state development funds were invested into the football construction industry that warmly welcomed corruption, cost escalation and shady procurement deals. In the end, money triumphed: over the last decade, new stadiums sprung out from nothing all over the country, dozens of new academies opened and pitches for youth development appeared on practically every corner. The final piece of the stadium renovation program was the completion of the new national stadium, Puskás Aréna in 2019 (estimated cost: 575 million EUR). Orbán commemorated this historic moment with a celebratory video on his social media that features a majestic shot of Orbán modestly kicking a CGI ball from his office to the new stadium.
Obviously, Orbán understood that infrastructure alone won’t suffice. He believed in the idea that successful clubs are the cornerstone of a strong national side as these clubs would compete in a high quality national league (and in international tournaments) that would require a constant influx of youth players developed by the clubs themselves. However, Orbán was not really keen on sharing the state’s infinite wealth with private club owners who failed to invest in their clubs between 2002 and 2010. The club ownership takeover was not that challenging as previous owners were usually happy to cut their losses, and soon enough most clubs came under Orbán’s influence. Some clubs were integrated deep into Orbán’s reach (Ferencváros and MTK Budapest club presidents are high ranking officials of Orbán’s party) while in other cases, indirect control was deemed sufficient (Diósgyőri VTK was purchased by a businessman as an attempt to display loyalty to Orbán).
Pouring taxpayer money into infrastructure (stadium) projects is relatively easy: after all, we are basically talking about overpriced government construction projects, there’s nothing new there. On the other hand, allocating funds to clubs that should be operating on a competitive market is certainly a tougher nut to crack. The obvious solutions were implemented: the state media massively overpaid for broadcasting rights and the national sports betting agency also pays a hefty sum to the FA, allowing for a redistribution of considerable amounts. However, given that the income side of Hungarian clubs was basically non-existent (match day income is negligible, the failed youth development system does not sell players), an even more radical solution was desperately needed. Also, there was definite interest in the development of a tool that would allow for differentiation between clubs (as in the few remaining non-government affiliated clubs should not receive extra money).
The solution came in 2011: the so-called TAO (“társasági adó” = corporate tax) system was introduced, granting significant tax deductions for companies if they offered a portion of their profits to sports clubs – however, in theory, funds acquired through TAO can be only used for youth development and infrastructure purposes. Soon enough, it became apparent that state authorities were not exactly interested in the enforcement of these restrictions, so some very basic creative accounting measures enabled clubs to use this income for anything they wanted to. Companies were naturally keen on cutting their tax burdens and scoring goodwill with the government, so TAO money immediately skyrocketed. Opportunistic party strongmen used their influence to convince local business groups to invest in the local clubs, enabling for the meteoric rise of multiple unknown provincial teams (Mezőkövesd [pop: 16,000], Kisvárda [pop: 16,000], Balmazújváros [pop: 17,000]) into the first division.
Although it’s not the main subject of this piece, I feel inclined to show you the actual results of Orbán’s grandiose football reform. While we do have our beautiful stadiums, we don’t exactly get them filled – league attendance has stagnated around 3000 spectators per game throughout the whole decade. We couldn’t really move forward with our national team either: Hungary lost 10 positions in the FIFA World Rankings throughout Orbán’s ten years. On the other hand, the level of league has somewhat improved – Videoton and Ferencváros reached the Europa League group stage in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Too bad that the Instat-based top team of 2019/2020 Hungarian league consists of 10 foreigners and only 1 Hungarian: the goalkeeper.
Part 3: Small place, big game!As seen in the previous chapter, Orbán did have a strong interest in the improvement of the football situation Hungary, but we shouldn’t forget that his deepest interest and true loyalty laid in the wellbeing of Felcsút and its academy. Now that Orbán had limitless means to see to the advancement of his beloved club, he got to work immediately. Orbán handed over formal club management duties to his friend / protégé / middleman / businessman Lőrinc Mészáros in 2010, but no questions would ever arise of who is actually calling the shots.
First of all, no club can exist without a proper stadium. Although in 2011 Orbán explicitly stated that “Felcsút does not need a stadium as stadiums belong to cities”, no one was really surprised in 2012 when the construction of the Felcsút stadium was announced. Orbán was generous enough to donate the lands just in front of his summer home in the village for the project, locating the entrance a mere ten meters away from his residence. Construction works for the stunningly aesthetic 3,800-seater arena (in a village of 1,800 people) started in April 2012 and were completed in April 2014, making Felcsút’s arena the second new stadium of Orbán’s gigantic stadium revival program.
The estimated budget of the construction was 120 million EUR (31,500 EUR / seat) was financed by the Puskás Academy who explicitly stated that they did not use government funds for the project. Technically, this statement is absolutely true as the construction was financed through the TAO money offered by the numerous companies looking for tax deduction and Orbán’s goodwill. However, technically, this means that the country’s budget was decreased by 120 million EUR unrealized tax revenue. Naturally, the gargantuan football stadium looks ridiculously out of place in the small village, but there’s really no other way to ensure that your favorite team’s stadium is within 20 seconds of walking distance from your home.
Obviously, a proper club should also have some glorious history. Felcsút was seriously lagging behind on this matter as though Felcsút FC was founded in 1931, it spent its pre-Orbán history in the uninspiring world of the 5th-7th leagues of the country. Luckily enough, Orbán had already secured Puskás’ naming rights and they were not afraid to use it, so Felcsút FC was renamed to Puskás Academy FC in 2009. The stadium name was a little bit problematic as the Hungarian national stadium in Budapest had sadly had the dibs on Puskás’ name, so they had to settle with Puskás’ Spanish nickname, resulting in the inauguration of the Pancho Arena. But why stop here? Orbán’s sports media strongman György Szöllősi acted upon the contract with Puskás’ widow and transferred all Puskás’ personal memorabilia (medals, jerseys, correspondence) to the most suitable place of all: a remote village in which Puskás never even set foot in.
While the off-field issues were getting resolved, Orbán’s attention shifted to another important area: the actual game of football. Although academy players started to graduate from 2008 on, it very soon became painfully obvious that the academy program couldn’t really maintain even a second division side for now. In 2009, Orbán reached an agreement with nearby Videoton’s owner that effectively transformed Felcsút FC into Videoton’s second team under the name of Videoton – Puskás Akadémia FC. The mutually beneficent agreement would allow Videoton to give valuable playing time to squad players while it could also serve as a skipping step for Puskás Academy’s fresh graduates to a first league team. The collaboration resulted in two mid-table finishes and a bronze medal in the second division in the following three seasons that wasn’t really impressive compared to Felcsút FC’s standalone seasons.
It seemed that the mixture of reserve Videoton players and academy youth was simply not enough for promotion, and although Orbán had assured the public multiple times that his Felcsút project was not aiming for the top flight, very telling changes arose after the 2011/2012 season. Felcsút terminated the Videoton cooperation deal and used the rapidly accumulating TAO funds to recruit experienced players for the now independently operating Puskás Academy FC (PAFC). The new directive worked almost too well: PAFC won its division with a 10 point lead in its first standalone year which meant that they would have to appear in the first league prior to the completion of their brand-new Pancho Arena. Too bad that this glorious result had almost nothing to do with the academy - only two players were academy graduates of the side’s regular starting XI.
Orbán did not let himself bothered with the ridiculousness of an academy team with virtually no academy players being promoted to the first division as he stated that “a marathon runner shouldn’t need to explain why the other runners were much slower than him”. Orbán also displayed a rare burst of modesty as he added that “his team’s right place is not in the first league, and they will soon be overtaken by other, better sides”.
The promotion of PAFC to the first division made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Supporter groups were united in hatred all along the league and not surprisingly, away fans almost always outnumbered the home side at PAFC’s temporary home at Videoton’s Sóstói Stadium (demolished and rebuilt in its full glory since then). One of the teams, however, possessed an extraordinary degree of anger against PAFC: supporters of Budapest Honvéd – the only Hungarian team in which Ferenc Puskás played – felt especially awkward about the transfer of their club legend’s heritage to Felcsút. Tensions spiked at the PAFC – Honvéd game when home security forced Honvéd supporters to remove the “Puskás” part of their traditional “Puskás – Kispest – Hungary” banner – the team answered the insult with style as they secured a 4-0 victory supported by fans chanting “you can’t buy legends”.
Despite Orbán’s prognosis, other better sides did not rush to overtake his team, so PAFC, now residing in their brand new Pancho Arena, came through with a 14th and a 10th place in their first two seasons. Naturally, conspiracy theories began to formulate, speculating that government-friendly owners would certainly not be motivated to give their best against PAFC. However, as the league size was reduced to 12 for the 2015/2016 season, PAFC found themselves in a dire situation just before the final round: they needed a win and needed rival Vasas to lose against MTK in order to avoid relegation. PAFC’s draw seemed to be unlucky as they faced their arch-enemy Honvéd at home, but Honvéd displayed an absolute lackluster effort – fueling conspiracy theories – and lost the fixture 2 to 1 against a home side featuring four academy players. Vasas, however, did not disappoint, their 2-0 victory resulted in PAFC’s elimination and a very relaxed sigh all over the football community.
PAFC’s relegation seemed to be in accordance with Orbán’s 2013 statement, so public opinion supposed for a while that Orbán’s project came to a halting point and the Academy would go on to actually field academy players in the second division (especially as rostering foreign players was prohibited in the lower leagues). However, if you have read through this point, you know better than to expect Orbán to retreat – obviously, PAFC came back with a bang. With a ballsy move, PAFC didn’t even sell their foreign players, they just loaned them across the league, promising them that they would be able to return next year to the newly promoted team. The promise was kept as PAFC went into another shopping spree of experienced players (easily convincing lots of them to choose the second division instead of the first) and easily won the second league.
Orbán – now aware of his negligence – opted for the doubling the team’s budget, making PAFC the third most well-founded club in the whole country (only coming short to his friend’s Videoton and his party minion’s Ferencváros). With an actual yearly influx from TAO money in the ballpark of 30-40 million EUR, PAFC management had to really work wonders in creative accounting in order to make their money look somewhat legitimate. The books were now full of ridiculous items like:
- Construction of a new tea kitchen for youth players for 650,000 EUR
- Construction of a new “sports and conference center” for 40 million EUR
- Employment of a 45 person “cleaning and maintenance staff” for the academy.
Despite their unlimited funding, PAFC could not put up a top-tier performance in their first two years back in the first division, finishing 6th and 7th in the 12-team league. Many speculated that the lack of support, motivation and even a clear team mission did not allow for chemistry to develop within the multinational and multi-generational locker room. Consistency was also a rare sight on the coaching side: club management was absolutely impatient with coaches who were very easily released after a single bad spell and there were talks of on-field micromanagement request coming from as high as Orbán.
Even so, their breakthrough came dangerously close in 2018 as PAFC performed consistently well in the cup fixtures and managed to reach the final. Their opponent, Újpest played an incredibly fierce game and after a 2-2 draw, they managed to defeat PAFC in the shootout. Football fans sighed in relief throughout the country as ecstatic Újpest supporters verbally teased a visibly upset Orbán in his VIP lounge about his loss.
Obviously, we could only delay the inevitable. While this year’s PAFC side seemed to be more consistent than its predecessors, it seemed that they won’t be able to get close to the podium - they were far behind the obvious league winner duo of Ferencváros and Videoton and were trailing third-place Mezőkövesd 6 points just before the pandemic break. However, both Mezőkövesd and PAFC’s close rivals DVTK and Honvéd fall flat after the restart while PAFC was able to maintain its good form due to its quality roster depth. PAFC overtook Mezőkövesd after the second-to-last round as Mezőkövesd lost to the later relegated Debrecen side. (Mezőkövesd coach Attila Kuttor was fined harshly because of his post-game comments on how the FA wants PAFC to finish third.)
PAFC faced Honvéd in the last round once again, and as Honvéd came up with its usual lackluster effort, PAFC secured an effortless win, confidently claiming the third place. PAFC celebrated their success in a nearly empty stadium, however neither Orbán, nor Mészáros (club owner, Orbán’s protégé, now 4th richest man of Hungary) seemed to worry about that. While Orbán high-fived with his peers in the VIP lounge, Mészáros was given the opportunity to award the bronze medals (and for some reason, a trophy) to the players dressed up in the incredibly cringe worthy T-shirts that say “Small place, big game!”. Big game, indeed: in the 2019/2020 season, foreign players’ share of the teams playing time was 43.6% while academy graduates contributed only 17.9%.
On Sunday evening, less than 24 hours after PAFC’s glorious success, György Szöllősi, now editor-in-chief of Hungary’s only sports newspaper (purchased by Orbán’s affiliates a few years back) published an editorial on the site, stating that “the soccer rebuild in Felcsút became the motor and symbol of the revitalization of sport throughout the whole country”. Well, Szöllősi is exactly right: Felcsút did became a symbol, but a symbol of something entirely different. Felcsút became a symbol of corruption, inefficiency, lies and the colossal waste of money. But, hey, at least we know now: you only need to spend 200 million EUR (total budget of PAFC and its academy in the 2011-2020 period) if you want to have a Europa League team in your backyard. Good to know!
Epilogue: What's in the future?As there is no foreseeable chance for political change to happen Hungary (Orbán effortlessly secured qualified majority in 2014 and 2018, and is projected to do so in 2022 as well), PAFC’s future seems to be as bright as it gets. Although consensus opinion now seems to assume that Orbán does not intend to interfere with the Ferencváros – Videoton hegemony, we can never be really sure about the exact limits of his greed. One could also argue that entering the European theater serves as a prime opportunity for making splashy transfers who could be the cornerstones of a side challenging the league title.
However, as all political systems are deemed to fall, eventually Orbán’s regime will come apart. Whoever will take upon the helm after Orbán, they will certainly begin with cutting back on the one item on Orbán’s agenda that never had popular support: limitless football spending. Puskás Academy, having next to zero market revenue, will not be able to survive without the state’s life support, so the club will fold very shortly. The abandoned, rotting stadium in Felcsút will serve as a memento of a powerful man who could not understand the true spirit of football.
But let’s get back to present day, as we have more pressing issues coming up soon: PAFC will play their first European match in the First qualifying round of the Europa League on 27 August. We don’t have a date for the draw yet, but soon enough, a team unaware of the whole situation will be selected to face the beast. I hope that maybe one of their players does some research and maybe reads this very article for inspiration. I hope that the supporters of this club get in touch with Honvéd fans who would be eager to provide them with some tips on appropriate chants. I hope that other teams gets drawn as the home team so Orbán wouldn’t get the pleasure of walking to his stadium for an international match. But most importantly, I very much hope that this team obliterates PAFC and wipes them off the face of the earth. 5-0 will suffice, thank you.
And if this team fails to do that, we don’t have to worry yet. Due to our shitty league coefficient, PAFC would need to win four fixtures in a row. And that – if there’s any justice in this world – is a thing that can’t, that won’t happen. Ball don’t lie – if I may say.
Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán redirected some 200 million EUR of taxpayer money over 10 years to fuel his ambition of raising a competitive football team in his hometown of 1,800 people. He built a 3,800-seater stadium in his backyard, expropriated football legend Ferenc Puskás’ trademarks and heritage and built up a football league where almost all clubs are owned by his trustees. His team, Puskás Akadémia FC was originally intended to be a development ground for youth players graduating from Orbán’s football academy, but eventually the team became more and more result-orianted. Finally, a roster full of foreign and non-academy players came through and finished third in the league, releasing this abomination of a team to the European football theatre. Please, knock them out asap!