BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Us-building through sports in illiberal Hungary: National-historical myths embedded in the Arena Pancho

Fri8  Apr04:20pm(20 mins)
CWB Plenary


Katinka Linnamäki, Emilia Palonen


For long, monumental sports arenas have formed a mainstream for “us”-building. Although they are transformed into neoliberal event spaces in most of the European counties in the Hungarian illiberal context they still serve as materializations of political “us”-building. A very salient instance of all this is the Arena Pancho, an authoritarian enactment of a spatial logic that constitutes illiberal logic through merging a selective national-historical narrativization of the socialist past and interwar statism. Located in the hometown of the Fidesz leader Victor Orbán, the new stadium and its club is eponymous to the famous 1956-match hero Ferenc Puskás. Our analysis focuses on how the Arena Pancho as an event scape and a spatio-temporal articulation together with the club Puskas Ferenc Academy constitutes the illiberal “us”. The paper aims to map out how the illiberal logic of the Fidesz-KDNP government is reflected in the club Puskas Academy, and the Arena Pancho by embedded national myths rooting in the feudal pre-modern times of Hungary.