A group of French national team fans arrived in Bucharest on Saturday with tickets to see the defending World Cup champion face Hungary at the Euros, only to find out the game was more than 500 miles away in Budapest.
The six fans, all colleagues at an IT company, told Romanian outlet Jurnalul that they followed a group of soccer fans from the airport into the city center prior to the game, hoping to find a way to the stadium. It turns out the fans were Ukrainians waiting out the days in Bucharest between games against North Macedonia and Austria.
"We never thought they were Ukrainians," one of the French fans told Jurnalul. "Now I realize we couldn't even figure it out. We don't know Hungarian either, and we don't know Ukrainian or Russian. They are just as foreign to us."
The fans said that, despite booking the tickets all at once through the same company, three of their tickets were to Bucharest while three were to Budapest. Yet they all arrived in Bucharest together, and the company allegedly blamed them for not knowing the difference.
In similar fashion, two Liverpool fans missed a Champions League match in 2019 against Genk after traveling to Gent. But even this particular group of lost fans aren't the first to confuse the two cities. In 2012, a group of about 400 Athletic Bilbao fans chartered a flight to Budapest for the Europa League final against Atlético Madrid, which actually took place in Bucharest.
Michael Jackson famously yelled out "Hello Budapest" to the Bucharest crowd in 1992. Metallica, Lenny Kravitz and Ozzy Osbourne have all endured similar gaffes. The constant errors led a Romanian chocolate company to create a public awareness campaign called Bucharest Not Budapest.
Rather than making the 10-hour drive to Budapest, the six French fans decided to stay in Romania to educate themselves on Romanian culture. In the end, fate may just be on their side. If France wins Group F, Les Bleus will travel to Bucharest for its first knockout stage, for which the fans said they would extend their stay.
"It's like we're in the movie Home Alone," one of the fans said. "... This is the first time we have traveled to this part of Europe. And, to be honest, for me, until today, there was no difference between Bucharest and Budapest.
"We need to learn more about Europe."
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