Hungary EURO2008

By Ed_ScottishFitba
Last updated : 10 December 2002

Hungary were unlucky when they failed with a joint bid along with Austria for EURO2004. This time they have chosen the solo route and think they have returned with an even stronger bid. This is one of only two solo bids and we will look at the Russian one later today. The Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) has been going for 101 years and have some major plans for EURO 2008. Many older readers will know all about the 1950s Hungary side of Ferenc Puskas and Nandor Hidegkuti which went on a sensational six-year run from 1950-56. They only lost one game (typical that it was the 1954 FIFA World Cup final) and along the way destroyed the reputation of an England side previously considered unbeatable. However, they consider that if they win the right to host EURO 2008 it would be possible to surpass even these golden memories.

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).

Plans to develop Videoton
Hungary is in a good position to make the structural changes to ensure the smooth running of EURO 2008 as they have a burgeoning economy and a strong currency. With the distances involved in travel between the host cities being relatively small (420 kilometres is the longest trip) travel within Hungary should be extremely easy. The organisers think that Budapest should be able to deal with accommodating the visiting fans. MLSZ general secretary Sandor Berzi said that their single-nation bid would be a major advantage for Hungary. He explained: "
To host a European championship with another country creates a lot of big problems with language, borders, different taxes and policing systems."

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."

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