A Beggar For Good Soccer: Hungary

Jessica’s travels lead to Budapest

Editor’s note: Welcome back to A Beggar For Good Soccer, our summer travelogue miniseries from Jessica Malone. This week, Jessica heads to Hungary.

Hungary, the birthplace of Ferenc Puskás, has a rich footballing history. Around the corner from the famed Dohány synagogue, in the capital city of Budapest, is a 1000 m2 mural that was commissioned for the 60th anniversary of the “Game of the Century”. Hungary beat England 6-3 in front of 105,000 people at (old) Wembley. Playing a tactical precursor of Total Football, Hungary was the first continental European team to beat England on their home soil.

Budapest has several football stadiums, and another one – Ferenc Puskás Stadion – is under construction to host Euro 2020 matches. This Puskás display is one of several murals honoring Hungarian athletes at the M2 metro line stop at the new stadium.

For the first time ever, the women’s Champions League Final was taking place in a different location than the men’s. Groupama Arena, home of Hungarian champions Ferencváros TC, was the host. I bought a ticket for 700 Hungarian Forint, roughly $2.40. By game day, the match was sold out.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin were trying to win their 4th straight Champions League Title, and 6th overall. Their opponents, FC Barcelona Femení, were the first Spanish team to make it to the Final, and were considered heavy underdogs.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin dominated the match, winning 4-1, in front of 19,487 spectators. Hungarian-born Dzsenifer Maroszán, who will represent Germany at the World Cup this summer, scored in the 5th minute. Ballon d’Or Féminin winner Norwegian Ada Hegerberg added a hat trick within 16 minutes in the first half.

The following day was the final match day in the 12-team Hungarian domestic league. I went to Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, a 5,322 jewel box of a stadium, for MTK Budapest vs Budapest Honvéd. The match ticket cost 1350 Ft, almost twice what I paid for my Champions League Final ticket.

MTK Budapest needed to win, and have some help from other teams playing that day, to avoid relegation. A red card and missed penalty frustrated the home fans and mascot as the team lost 3-1. Budapest Honvéd finished fourth, two points shy of a Europa League spot.

Follow Jessica’s journey in real time at @jessicamalone85.