In an interview with Nemzeti Sport online, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Hungarian football is on course to redeem its old glory, adding that by 2030 the national eleven would be great again.
In an interview conducted while the prime minister was in Qatar, PM Orbán said: “Lionel Messi is the greatest; literally the smallest boy that has grown to be the greatest hero.” He called the competition “unique” for being organized in an Arab country for the first time. “Arab football flashed its real strength through the Moroccan team,” he added. The prime minister said the Western world had had to learn how to behave according to different rules. “This time they weren’t hosts but guests, yet they tried to force their habits on their hosts…” The Western world, with its “colonial instincts”, has forgotten the adage: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” he added. Qatar could have spent their money “on anything” other than the World Cup, but “it is good that they spent it on football,” PM Orbán said. He said bilateral ties with Qatar were excellent, the country was “a friend of Hungary” with a number of large investments here. PM Orbán praised Hungary’s Sándor Csányi, FIFA’s vice president, for his initiative to allow players to be in their home countries’ teams even if they had played in the junior teams of other countries. That is why, he said, there were many players in the Moroccan and other African teams who had played, for example, in France as youngsters.
PM Orbán said the “Golden” Hungarian team of the 1950s had been “no doubt one of the best” but “we were not there in Qatar this time because we could not win when we should have.” But Hungarian soccer was improving, he noted. In the 20 years after 1989, Hungarian football descended into darkness, “and it has taken another twenty years to emerge”, but by 2030 it will have “regained its old glory”, he said. Referring to “spectacular games” in soccer club leagues, PM Orbán said that ultimately national teams unsullied by corruption were of the greatest value.
Discussing sport more broadly, PM Orbán said it would take another year before changes in the government’s sports management could be assessed. Seven-year development programmes the government launched for sports associations are being completed, he said. Those schemes will be evaluated individually, while new agreements with the associations for the next two Olympic cycles are being signed, he added.
Pointing to the war in Ukraine, the prime minister noted difficulties in running sports facilities and high energy costs. These problems will “stay with us” and Hungary will not be able to organise any major sports events in 2023 and 2024, PM Orbán said. The Hungarian government has “built and organised everything possible” in the area of sports in the past 12 years, he said, referring to Budapest’s new athletics stadium and the athletics world championships as “the crown” of those efforts. “We have organised all events possible that are worth organising — apart from the Olympics,” PM Orbán said.