Feature by Ed_ScottishFitba
Updated Tuesday, 10th December 2002
The Hungarians taught the world a few things back in the 50s. Can they do it again in 2008?
With a trial run for EURO2004 it is not surprising that Hungary's plans for their current bid they are terrifically ambitious. A successful bid would see the nation's footballing infrastructure rebuilt almost from scratch. The 60,000-capacity Ferenc Puskαs stadium would be refitted to host the final while a newly built stadium, the Feher, would host group games in the capital. Outside the capital Gyor's Raba stadium and Szekesfehervar's Videoton stadium would be due for major upgrades, while new arenas would spring up in Miskolc (the Diσsgyori), Debrecen (the Nagyerdei) and Szeged (the Adatok).
Hungary's bid would open up fresh territory for football and we know how ambitios UEFA is at the moment. Despite being one of Europe's oldest nations, the beauty of Hungary remains largely undiscovered by outsiders and the MLSZ's aim to "invite Europe to New Europe" could have a strong lure for traveling fans. The golden memories of the great Hungarian sides of old have their appeal, but as national coach Imre Gellei pointed out, nostalgia is a thing of the past in Hungary. "There was a time when the whole world used to adore our national team. Now we are working with the aim of gradually getting up to a level by 2008 where we will again be taken seriously."
Political support for the bid in Hungary has been strong, with president Ferenc Madl saying recently : "Now the time has come for us to show that our country cannot only be a participant, but also host the celebration of football in Europe." They may not have have many international film stars to roll out, but in Puskas they have something even better-a real football star. The great man said: "I'd like to make a call to those who have come after me, Europe's greatest stars. I'd like to invite all of you to Hungary in 2008."
As usual, we leave the last word to the bidders. Gyorgy Szollosi, head of communications MLSZ said: "It would be a great motivation for Hungarian football and society to continue the MLSZ's projects for coaching, youth education and stadium reconstruction if our bid was successful. Hungarian hospitality is very warm and this has been behind our success in hosting other sporting events."