Hungary is becoming more and more of a problem child in European football, many still remember Goretzka's heart action at the EM 2021. After the renewed spectator scandal against England, the DFB-Elf wants to do without special gestures. What happens in the Nations League game is completely open.
Leon Goretzka formed a heart with his hands and sent the strong sign of love to the angry black mob - including the anti-queer, racist and nationalist "Carpathian Brigade". The national player's special goal celebration a year ago provided one of the lasting images of the EURO. Now the Bayern professional with a flair for social issues is meeting the Hungarian fans again, whose racist and homophobic outbursts have long since become a major annoyance in European football.
Goretzka does not yet know whether he will set such a sign again tonight (8.45 p.m. / RTL and in the live ticker on ntv.de) in the Nations League duel in Budapest. "I haven't really listened to my feelings yet," said the 27-year-old: "I prepare just like I do for other games." On Friday, Hansi Flick tried to keep the issue small in advance. "Everyone has already played many games in a heated mood," he said of the expected whistles, "everyone has to endure that at this level. We're focusing on our game, everything else is secondary."
But it's not always that easy, as the England internationals found out a week ago. When they knelt before the kick-off of their guest performance in Hungary in protest against racism, the 30,000 spectators in the Ferenc Puskas Stadium whistled and booed - mostly school children. The renewed scandal was reminiscent of the scandals of the past year: the monkey noises that accompanied strikers Jude Bellingham and Raheem Sterling in the World Cup qualifiers in Budapest, the excesses at the European Championship group games in the Puskas Stadium and in Munich, where the atmosphere was already heated after the discussions about rainbow lighting in the arena as a reaction to Viktor Orban's discriminatory policies.
His heart gesture "came a little bit out of the box," Goretzka explained in retrospect, "and was in line with the previous topic of whether or not we were allowed to illuminate the arena in rainbow colors." Thomas Müller also confirmed on Friday before the Hungary game that Goretzka's action was "spontaneous". Last Tuesday, the German players showed solidarity with their English colleagues and also went on their knees in Munich.
A similar sign in Budapest is not being considered, reported Oliver Bierhoff. "No, we haven't thought about it yet," said the national team and academy manager when asked, "there are no plans for Hungary."
But Bierhoff also knows that the national players are more than ever in focus beyond their sporting achievements. "You have to deal with it, take an attitude and position," he said, but emphasized that the "young people" in the team represented a "cross-section of society": "There are those who are more interested and committed. Others are reserved ."
In the evening, the Puskas Stadium in Budapest is sold out again, the exclusion of spectators as punishment for the homophobic and racist attacks that Hungary avoided against England with 30,000 school children and their companions is suspended. And the next scandal may only be a matter of time.