WHAT is it with people involved with sports these days? First there was TV anchor Kristína Kormúthová complaining on Facebook that some “prematurely born stinking Gypsy is stealing a four-metre long gutter (rýna)” from her house, and asked just why it was that “we hunters can’t shoot this as a stray?”

Just a couple of days later, hockey legend Dárius Rusnák, who has for years headed the presidential communications department, shouted at a pair of Hungarian-speaking Bratislava women that they are “fucking Hungarians”, and along with a friend beat up two men who came to their defence.

The public broadcaster later fired Kormúthová, and Rusnák’s job will end regardless of what his boss Ivan Gašparovič decides once new president Andrej Kiska takes the oath. And the police and the prosecution are looking into both cases.

So, unlike in the not too distant past, when nationalist leader Ján Slota declared that we should “level Budapest” with tanks, and that the Roma deserve “a small courtyard and a large whip”, and instead of jail, ended up in the ruling coalition with Smer, some consequences are now being drawn for such behaviour. But both incidents prove how deep prejudices against the country’s two largest minorities remain.

Reactions to the events also illustrate how society’s perception of these minorities is shifting. Anti-Hungarian sentiment was for years a powerful political weapon, widely used by nationalists and socialists alike. Now, it has mostly vanished from public life and any similar outbursts probably seem inappropriate even to the silent majority.

Banská Bystrica Region’s neo-Nazi boss Marian Kotleba doesn’t even attack Hungarians. Instead, the prejudices of extremists and the wider public are now focused on the Roma.

Kormúthová is being defended and celebrated by many as a victim of the “Gypsies” and unjust political correctness. Her Facebook status is in itself neither surprising nor unusual; it was exceptional only in that it was written by an RTVS employee. And it’s still possible that instead of seeing her career go down the drain she will benefit from her newfound celebrity status.