“The murderous battle doesn’t last more than ten to fifteen minutes. The scene after the battle: wounded people lie all around the battlefield, many in big pools of blood, motionless. A black warrior can’t get up despite great effort: they probably broke both his legs. A little way away from him, blood runs from a white warrior’s nose—he lights a cigarette, blood soaks the cigarette. In the background, someone crawls on the stomach toward bottles with water that emerged from somewhere. A hunched muscular giant can’t stand upright: a few minutes ago, several people trampled him and kicked his balls with Doc Martens shoes. Those who were luckier try to evaluate the final result: which team managed to disable more enemies for a battle or a life, or at least cripple them.”
I remember how horrible I felt a few years ago when I read that ustawka was getting more and more common in Hungary as well. That this beautiful version, unknown to me until then, of cultural spending time is slowly growing roots in my dear homeland. I hadn’t heard this word before, I also wasn’t informed about this phenomenon, but an illustrative and sensual reportage quickly taught me what the point of this popular group fun activity, which originates from Poland and Russia and for which we can thank Slavic creativity, is. I found out that it means that soccer fans who don’t like each other organize themselves and try, if not to kill, at least to beat each other as much as possible outside a stadium.
I’m not saying that I didn’t swallow at the very first second and stared with a blank look out a window a few minutes. At that time, I lived in Germany as a cultural diplomat, my distant look slid across the panorama of one of the richest and the most well-kept German cities. From the Stuttgart point of view, the fact that members of rival groups agree on the exact time on the Internet and fight till they drop on fields at the edge of cities seemed like medieval barbarism had returned. The most amazing thought was that soccer and matches aren’t necessary for hostile fans to inflict lasting wounds and injuries to each other, not only to the first drop of blood but, if possible, to fight to disability. There, in the “cultural west,” which of course also bled from several wounds in many respects, it was hard to imagine this crazy version of mutual hatred without any control—perhaps because the Germans won their battle in an exemplary manner against the period when hatred, which was elevated to the highest rank of ideology, collectively made a group of people enemies.
A series of video clips going viral on the Internet only reinforced the medieval performance, which turned back time for several centuries. The warriors lacked only armors, helmets and visors, and horses beneath them. Early in the morning on a dewy battlefield, the Ferencváros warriors come in black sweatshirts and the Debrecen warriors in white sweatshirts. Two times twenty of strong heroes, the majority is tattooed and bald, to settle their score completely independently of the last performance by the worshipped team, of the result of the last match and even of sport and soccer. The point is that the stimulus of this nice and new fighting sport is hatred alone, whose reason, content and the fundamental core are the fact that the other one likes the other soccer team. No one is interested in the last performance of the teams in the championship any longer, which team is higher in the rankings is completely indifferent, there are no specific injustices but only general, universal hatred because you emotionally belong to the other team.
They are coming across the battlefield, across a morning flowering meadow, the black warriors from the left, the white ones from the right, without swords and bats, with bare hands, in a tidy straight line, twenty and twenty. Heavy boots slide across dewy grass with a pace but without haste and as the distance becomes smaller between them, they clench their fists and their expressions become animal-like. When the camps meet, there’s no more talking either about sport and soccer or which team you cheer for and which club, which B-League you belong to. There’s only one thing that matters: that you destroy the person standing in front of you and wearing a sweatshirt of a different color. To knock him on the ground, to hit and beat him, to kick him and smash him into pieces—to break his bones, knock out his teeth, his blood and eyes should run out, he’s just a worthless animal in black jersey who doesn’t belong among us. Everything is allowed, there are no rules, laws, conditions: three people can also attack one person only, no body part is protected, there are no limits—why should it even exist, it’s freedom, everything is allowed, if possible, he shouldn’t die because some complications follow. A corpse has to be removed, the police come, record, and so on, who needs all this. The authorities also shut their eyes to this: ustawka isn’t prohibited by law or a regulation.
The murderous battle doesn’t last more than ten to fifteen minutes. The scene after the battle: wounded people lie all around the battlefield, many in big pools of blood, motionless. A black warrior can’t get up despite great effort: they probably broke both his legs. A little way away from him, blood runs from a white warrior’s nose—he lights a cigarette, blood soaks the cigarette. In the background, someone crawls on the stomach toward bottles with water that emerged from somewhere. A hunched muscular giant can’t stand upright: a few minutes ago, several people trampled him and kicked his balls with Doc Martens shoes. Those who were luckier try to evaluate the final result: which team managed to disable more enemies for a battle or a life, or at least cripple them.
Then the soldiers go home. Wounds still hurt, but they have joyful expressions of a well-done job on their faces. Everyone is happy, the result doesn’t matter: the steam was released, the thing is settled until the next battle. Not in a subtle way, but certainly effectively. Resolving conflicts in the 21st century following a well established medieval recipe. Tradition. Respecting tradition. Let the one who has two lives and three mothers negotiate, talk and look for compromises. This isn’t on the agenda now. Simple but not very sophisticated methods are coming back. If you no longer have a bat, you knock the opponent in the ground like a stake with your bare hands. Why does a man feel that the political elite of my dear homeland also prefers historical methods with a more picturesque end instead more distinguished and more complex solutions in terms of time?