The Monday Profile: Filip Kiss
I presumed Kiss to be Hungarian given that he shares a name with a great many Magyars, not least László Kiss, the only man to score a hat trick in a World Cup match after emerging off the bench – in the 10-1 rout of El Salvador in 1982. Indeed, the name means “small” in the vernacular. I therefore turned to the pages of Tom Mortimer’s superb blog Hungarian Football to find out more about him.
But boundaries in eastern Europe are porous indeed – the Magyar minority in Romania is large and Transylvania in particular has often been a cauldron of contention between the local Hungarians and their current overlords – greater Hungary having bene detonated by the Treaty of Trianon at the conclusion of the First World War. Similarly, there exists a decent sized population of Hungarians in Slovakia to the north – a less fraught relationship – but one that has perhaps become less warm in recent years. It is from the southern town of Dunajská Streda that Kiss hails – a region with a greater number of Hungarians than ethnic Slovaks.
Accusations of electoral gerrymandering have beset this still fledgling nation state and it’s perhaps only due to western pressure that the Magyar population hasn’t been more compromised. Still, Ján Slota, the President of the extremist Slovak national party has described them as ‘a tumour in the body of the Slovak nation’ while the removal of Hungarian language street signs and attempts to force women to affix the suffix ‘-ova’ to their names are other inglorious instances of a bubbling enmity.
So, it’s encouraging that Kiss has ignored the diktats of parochialism – enflamed across the border by tit for tat attempts to issue all Slovak based Magyars with Hungarian passports by the latter’s President Viktor Orbán. The landscape of Hungarian politics has been transformed by the rise of the far right – the sinister Jobbik in Hungary and Slota’s own party in Slovakia.
That Kiss captains the under-21 side and has so far represented them 12 times is a middle finger extended to xenophobia. Equally, his pivotal role alongside Karim Guédé in the securing of Slovan Bratislava’s sixth title last May won him favour before his loan move to South Wales in May – thus following fellow ethnic Hungarian Slovak Szilárd Németh to British football. Having opened his account in the cruise to victory over Derby County recently, the midfielder is beginning to cement his place and working under such an impressive youg manager in Malky Mackay as well as the audiences he himself has professed himself to be so impressed with will do him no harm.