The Puskás Aréna in Budapest – Photo: wikipedia

Orbán: Hungary’s soccer ‘alive and well’

Hungary's football is "alive and well", Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview published by the daily Nemzeti Sport on Friday. In his interview, the prime minister said he had no doubts "even for a moment" concerning the revival of Hungary's football, but said "still, it was in football that I made the greatest mistake in the past ten years: we built a stadium for 64,000 visitors rather than for 90,000. we were tight-spirited, and that's wrong."
22. December 2023 17:42

The reason Hungarian football “is good is not that suddenly the system of academic training has become better or we have better trainers . but because the whole country has moved in the same direction: we have started upwards,” he said, adding that he was referring “not only to the economy, but to culture, the arts, and science, too”. He said “a desire for a higher-living is now present in Hungary, in the life of the individual, and in small communities, too”.

Concerning Hungary’s football academies, the prime minister said the system had arrived “at the end of an era” and their operations and financing would change considerably, putting the focus on achievement. “We will not focus on what happens at the academies but on the players that come out of them,” he added.

Orbán said the sports academies would continue to be supervised by the state, but “we will now shift to an output system and if that works we could consider another arrangement.” He also said he was waiting for an era of his childhood to return, in which “there were no academies just clubs.”

Clubs today are “under such financial pressure that if they have to choose they will prefer the first team to succession . they don’t have enough money yet to afford running an academy,” Orbán said. He also added that the academy system was a “guarantee of tomorrow . a great help to sports . unless the clubs are strong enough, we need the state-run academy system.”

Orbán said support for sports should be considered like support for parents to raise children.

He said much effort had been made to bring Hungarians’ commitment to sports to the surface, and now the results are expected. Coaches have received recognition, sports facilities have been fixed and large international competitions have been brought to Hungary, to enable sportspeople to show their skills on home ground, he added.

He said he had some bad feelings about the 2017 withdrawal of Budapest’s bid for the 2024 Olympics. However, today the situation is different; all important facilities needed for an Olympic Games have been completed and “Budapest can hardly develop greatly without hosting an Olympic Games”, he added.

Budapest’s level of development is at 160 percent of the European Union level, while there are parts of rural Hungary whose development level is at 50 percent, he said. “All the money must be directed to lesser-developed regions,” he added.

Large-scale development in Budapest can only happen if the city comes forward with something important to all Hungarians, he said.

He also said that Hungary has strong sports diplomacy representation in international organisations, not only in soccer but also in the Olympic movement. “There is no better place than Budapest for international sports organisations,” he added.

Leave a Reply