Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - Photo: PMO

Orbán: Puskas Academy should develop players who can propel Hungarian soccer back to world’s top ranks

The Puskas Academy has a responsibility to develop soccer players with whom Hungarian soccer can make its way back to the world's top ranks, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the academy's founder, said in an interview with the academy's website.

The academy’s job is to bring the best out of the talent who are admitted there, Orbán said in the interview published on his YouTube channel on Thursday.

One of the biggest challenges of Hungarian soccer is the development of talent below the age of 12-13, he said, noting that players tended to develop a number of skills by the age of 12 that they later could not.

The prime minister said Hungarian soccer was “not part of the entertainment industry”, but a part of Hungarian national identity.

“We’re not looking to have fun and clap from the grandstands for talented players from faraway lands; we want to see our own children,” he said. “If we give that up then Hungarian soccer becomes pointless.”

Orbán said this was why the aim was for the Puskas Academy to have both great international players whom young talent could look up to, but also home-grown talent.

Another challenge for the academy, he said, was when home-developed players were poached by foreign teams. He added, however, that Hungarian soccer needed its best talents to play in the top leagues around the world “so that they can better serve the national team”.

Concerning Ferencvaros’s recent 0-3 loss to Faroese club Klaksvikar Itrottarfelag in the first qualifying round for the UEFA Champions League, Orbán said the defeat demonstrated a “big problem” in Hungarian soccer. “It’s a big lesson because inexplicable things happen all the time in soccer, and it isn’t good when there’s only one serious internationally reputable team, because if that one falls then we’re left without a serious big team,” he said. “That’s why we need one or two more with budgets, player quality and international ratings similar to those of Ferencvaros.”

But, he added, the Puskas Academy could not be the one to fill that role because its mission was to get talented players to Hungary’s first division, the national team and international leagues.

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