Hungary For Success

Last updated : 28 September 2002 By Ed_ScottishFitba
Hungary still have high hope of winning the right to host EURO2008. It is their turn to escort the delegation from UEFA around their proposed venues for the football festival in six years time. Football Federation secretary general Sandor Berzi is hanging onto the hope that a one-nation bid makes life a lot easier for everyone. Berzi plans to use this argument during the tour. He will be playing up coordination and logistics problems seen at EURO2000, co-hosted by Belgium and the Netherlands, and at this year's World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

Hungarian Football Federation Berzi said in an interview the other day: "I hope a solo bid has more advantages than disadvantages. To make a European championship with another country...there are a lot of big problems with language, borders, different taxes and policing systems" .

Berzi thinks the key to Hungary's bid is its location, its football tradition and the full backing of the new government, which stands as project guarantor. He said Hungary, close to Europe's geographical heart and with a population of 10 million, bordering seven countries, makes it an ideal location for a month-long event where many fans travel to matches and then go home again straight away. While the government is offering full support to the EURO2008 bid, it has gone quiet on a bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. This allows more time to lobby for the football championship, the third biggest sports event on the world calendar. The government has said it is willing to dig deep into the treasury and has pledged 500 billion forints ($2.02 billion) to improve road, rail and air links and build new hotels if the bid is successful.

The commitment includes 120 billion forints ($484 million) for five new stadiums - in Budapest, Debrecen, Kaposvar, Miskolc and Szeged - and the complete renovation of three others in Budapest, Szekesfehervar and Gyor. They are further behind the Scotland-Ireland bid and they could only show building sites to the visiting UEFA team. Hungary has already a long-term stadium rebuilding programme in place. They are in the process of improving up to 40 current grounds at a cost of 21 billion forints ($84.67 million). Much like our bid Hungary knows there is no long-term need for all the seats that would be built for the 2008 championships. They would also plan to dismantle parts of the new venues after the tournament to make way for shops, restaurants and conference centres.

Hungary will also underline that they do not have a tradition of football hooliganism, though there are often ugly scenes at the Ferencvaros versus Ujpest league fixtures in the capital, Budapest. Berzi knows all about trouble as he sat on UEFA's disciplinary committee. He said: "We learnt from previous competitions. The key is the stadiums and ticketing. If we have a good ticketing system, there is an almost 100 percent chance Hungary can avoid the hooligans."

Berzi also noted that a solo nation bid would allow more teams to qualify for the 16-nation finals. With any joint bid, at least two hosts qualify automatically. Berzi said: "
It's one of our arguments but we don't yet know what UEFA's reaction will be". Berzi also picked up on an argument offered by the SFA when they were outlining their plans in the early days of the bid. FIFA plan to rotate future World Cups among the continents, which would make the idea of hosting the European championship rather more interesting to Europe's big football powers. With Hungary sitting just behind Scotland in the FIFA rankings at 64th, neither country could claim to be a power. This could be the last chance for a number of the bidders including Hungary.

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