The historic region of Felvidék, better known in English as Upper Hungary, is to be found within modern-day Slovakia; it was once the northern part of the Kingdom of Hungary, and is home to the majority of Slovakia’s estimated 450000 Hungarians. The region was split from the rest of Hungary at the end of the First World War, and was incorporated into the newly-created Czechoslovakia.
The town of Komárom is regarded as the seat of power for Slovakia's Hungarian population - and that of the country's tiny Serb minority - and is divided by the River Danube, which marks the modern-day border between Slovakia and Hungary. Komárom proper lies on the northern side of the river, while the southern side, best known for its fort, was once a separate town called Újszóny until it united with Komárom in 1896.
The town was divided again after World War I, when, along with the rest of Upper Hungary, Komárom proper fell under the newly-created Czechoslovakia. It was returned to Hungary in 1938, but became Czech territory again in 1945. The northern portion of the town, home today to Slovakia's biggest shipbuilding company, is today better known by its Slovak name, Komárno, whilst the southern part remains known as Komárom; a case of "one town, two countries."
Felvidék’s footballers were scheduled to make their first appearance at a World Football Cup tournament when they were due to take on Northern Cyprus on 31 May, and had come a long way since the Félvideki Labdarúgó Egyesulet (the Felvidék FA, or the FLE) was founded in 2014. Shortly afterwards, they joined ConIFA.
They were runners-up in their first tournament, which was held in the Isle of Man in May 2015, and a month later finished fourth in the ConIFA Euro 2015, which took place in the Hungarian city of Debrecen. In June the following year, Felvidék took part in another two tournaments, the first of which was the EUROPEADA, a competition organized by FUEN (the Federal Union of European Nationalities), held in the Italian region of South Tirol, where they again finished in fourth place.
Following on from that, at the beginning of August 2016, came the Hungary Heritage Cup, which was contested by the four regions outside Hungary – Felvidék, Délvidék (northern Serbia), Kárpátalja (westernmost Ukraine) and the Székely Land (central Romania) - where ethnic Hungarians are in the majority. The small Hungarian town of Szarvas was the venue for the tournament, which was given added spice by the fact that the winners would qualify directly for the World Football Cup.
In the first of two semi-finals, Felvidék drew 1:1 against Kárpátalja (Gábor Renczés scoring for Felvidék) before winning 5:4 on penalties. They would meet Délvidék in the final, who had defeated Székely Land 3:1 in the other semi. Ádám Érsek put Felvidék ahead from the penalty spot, though Délvidék equalised early in the second half. Zsolt Magyar coolly scored in the very last minute to make it 2:1 for Félvidek, delivering the team its first honour and sending it through to the World Football Cup finals.
One of the problems faced by teams such as Felvidék is that clubs can and do refuse to release their players for international matches, as the Felvidék FA does not fall under UEFA jurisdiction, and this was touched on Felvidék FA vice-president David Nágy during a newspaper interview in 2017. Nágy said that he would like to solve this with help from the Slovak FA, but was grateful that clubs such as Slovak top division club DAC Dunajska Streda had shown an “exemplary attitude” towards Felvidék.
Several of those players who have been in action for Felvidék over the last two years or so have also been on the books at DAC Dunajska Streda, including Zsolt Németh, Laszló Töth and Gergely Varga. Rajmund Mikus plays for second-level AFC Nové Mesto nad Váhom, whilst Adalbert Áron Juhasz has played in Hungary for ETO Gyór. Zoltán Harsányi, now with Balmazújváros in the Hungarian top division. has been plying his trade across the border for several years now, while young compatriot (and another ex-DAC Dunajska Streda player) János Szépe has not only become a regular for Félvidek, but now also for MTE 1904, who play in the Hungarian second-level.
They would have all been looking to make an impact at the Football World Cup, but, sadly, none of the players mentioned above will now be taking part, as Felividék scratched from the tournament on 4 May due to what ConIFA described in a short statement as “internal organisational issues.” Their place will now be taken by Kárpátalja.
A report carried on the Sportolunk website, based in Slovakia, published on the day of Felvidék's withdrawal stated that FLE managing director David Nágy had said that the withdrawal had, in fact, been the result of continual financial difficulties since the association’s foundation and its inability to attract sponsors.
In any case, it is a shame that Felvidék will not be gracing the tournament, as they have proven stubborn opponents for most of the teams they have faced over the past four years, although scoring goals has at times been a problem. This might have proved costly in a group containing current ConIFA world champions Abkhazia, Northern Cyprus and Tibet.
Alas, we shall now never know how Félvidek would have got on, but the FLE will now hopefully set about restructuring and building an organisation with a sound financial base whilst gaining some sponsors along the way, which would be an improvement from the present situation, one where, in Nágy’s own words, “the sponsors are not lined up in front of us.. [and the FLE] have also had to cover the bulk of [their] expenses [themselves].” Despite this most disappointing of developments for Félvidek, the side has a good mix of youth and experience which is developing nicely, and this at least bodes well for the future.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The bulk of the above article was written before Félvidek's withdrawal for another entity, who granted permission for it to be made public after Felvidék scratched from the World Football Cup. Unfortunately, despite repeated attempts to contact the Felvidék FA, no reply was forthcoming.
As ever, the information contained within was gleaned from a number of websites, Facebook, ConIFA and Twitter, whilst the quotes contained within were translated using an online translation website.
The ConIFA World Football Cup will run from 31 May to 9 June, and, although Felvidék won't be there, you could be; for tickets, go to: