Accessibility links

Breaking News

Hungary Lashes Out At Germany Over Soccer Coach's Firing Over LGBT, Migrant Remarks

Zsolt Petry was fired as Hertha Berlin's goalkeeping coach after the team said his recent comments did not reflect the team's values of diversity and tolerance. 

Hungary has officially complained to Berlin over the firing of a Hungarian goalkeeping coach after comments regarding same-sex adoptions, immigration, and what he called an intolerance of conservative views.

Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin announced Zsolt Petry's firing on April 6, saying the trainer's remarks to a Hungarian newspaper did not reflect the team's values of diversity and tolerance.

An aide to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also publicly blasted the German club's move as "outrageous," equating it with "totalitarian" rule in Nazi Germany.

Orban's chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, told reporters that "it is foremost Germany that has to answer whether it still upholds the rule of law."

Hungary's Foreign Ministry summoned a charge d'affaires on April 8 to complain about the firing.

Germany's Foreign Ministry responded by saying the Hungarian side's message was "in no way comprehensible to us."

"The charge d'affaires communicated this to the Hungarian government in his conversation [at the ministry]," the German Foreign Ministry's spokesman said. "We reject the references to National Socialism in the clearest terms."

In an interview published on April 5, Petry suggested Hungarian goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, who plays for Hertha’s league rival Leipzig, should focus on football instead of getting involved in divisive social issues about same-sex marriage and defending LGBT rights.

He also alleged a narrowing of free speech and liberal intolerance of conservative opinions.

In December, Gulacsi joined a campaign denouncing a constitutional change led by conservative Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban that effectively banned same-sex couples from adopting children.

In another part of his Hungarian interview, Petry criticized Europe’s migration policies, describing Europe as a Christian continent and immigration policy as a “manifestation of moral decline.”

With reporting by Reuters
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.