An Orbán interview about football

I don’t follow football, or soccer as it is called around here. Of course, I know that the performance of Hungarian football teams is abysmal and that the Hungarian prime minister spends billions of forints on stadiums that are practically empty. And naturally I know a lot about the stadium Viktor Orbán built right next to his country house in Felcsút. The stadium seats almost 4,000 people. Felcsút has a population of 1,600.

Viktor Orbán’s pet project, handsomely financed by taxpayer money, is the Ferenc Puskás Football Academy which, in the founder’s opinion, is among the top ten best academies in Europe. According to a less biased assessment, of the twelve Hungarian academies the Puskás Academy ranks ninth.

After Viktor Orbán delivered his “speech to the nation” on Friday, he went directly to Felcsút to watch the first match of the season. While there, he gave an interview to the communication director of the Academy.

What did I, a soccer know-nothing, learn from the prime minister? For starters, that the Puskás team is very weak. Naturally, Viktor Orbán said nothing of the sort, but one couldn’t help but be suspicious when he repeated several times that the emphasis in Felcsút is not on the team’s performance because, after all, it is an academy. The important thing is “teaching the students to play football.”

I also came to the conclusion that the Puskás team would be beaten every weekend if they did not hire outside, older players: Attila Fiola (25) and Attila Polonkai (36). Naturally, this is not exactly what Orbán said. He only mused about the adverse psychological effects of losing every weekend.

The stadium might empty and the team untalented but the Pancho Arena is fancy

The stadium might empty and the team untalented, but the Pancho Arena is fancy

I also learned that Orbán is worried about the possibility of the team’s losing its standing in the top tier of the National Championship (NB1), which would not be “worthy of the heritage of Ferenc Puskás.”

During the interview it also became clear that the fancy Felcsút stadium and the Puskás team attract very few spectators. Only once was the stadium full: at the opening ceremony. I was happy to learn, however, that according to Orbán “it doesn’t really matter how many spectators we have…. We don’t have fans. We have an academy.”

Also, there seems to be a fear that the low attendance has something to do with people’s political antipathy toward Viktor Orbán. The prime minister had to agree. In his opinion, the Academy and its team are frequently attacked unfairly on account of him, attacks that “are very hard to bear.” Therefore, he has the highest respect for the players. I wonder what kinds of attacks these players have to endure. We learned only that the fans of Vasas FC “sent [Orbán] in a most vulgar manner to a warmer climate.”

That’s what I learned from the interview. Since reading it, I found out that on the average there are 1,000 spectators at the Felcsút games, which (using admittedly spurious math) comes out to 3.47 million forints per spectator from taxpayer money. Another interesting bit of information I picked up was that Orbán after all must be bothered by the low turnout. Because otherwise why would it be necessary to offer free bus rides to fans from seven close-by towns and villages?

In brief, the Academy and its stadium are a flop.

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buddy
Guest

Some interesting data on spectators for NB I games for the first half of the season, and game-by-game for the last round:

http://www.nemzetisport.hu/labdarugo_nb_i/nb-i-a-17-fordulo-hozta-a-negativ-rekordot-de-nem-pakson-2396525

You can see that average attendance per game was only over 3,000 for two weeks of the season, and in the last three weeks, it was under 2,000 per game on average.

Also, the last Pukás Academy game on Dec. 6 (in Pécs) drew only 298 spectators.

It’s also interesting to note that American football, though amateur, is getting increasingly popular in Hungary. The Hungarian league’s championship game in November attracted 7,000 spectators! I wonder if any other amateur sports in Hungary can get that many fans to an event.

http://hvg.hu/sport/20141115_Magyar_amerikai_futballbajnoksag__Az_Uj

buddy
Guest

Ps. Only one game attracted more than 10,000 spectators last season, the FTC–Nyíregyháza match on Aug. 24 with 12,128… but that was because it was Fradi’s first league match in its new stadium.

The stadium holds 24,000, so even then it was just half-full.

Member

Foreign readers maybe wondering how did the dude pull off financing a whole stadium behind his outhouse in Felcsut from taxpayers money.

His majesty’s, Orban The 5th, government introduced a law that channeled part of the corporate tax into certain sports – soccer, handball, basketball, ice hockey and I don’t remember what else, in form of support. So just telling companies to deduct it from the taxable revenue will not spur too much interest, right? Aha, let them also deduct it from the tax. Genious. This way companies actually made money by telling the government to use it on soccer stadiums. One more thing. Companies cannot tell how their money should be used. The government will decide. Actually the Hungarian Soccer Association.

I believe the first two years resulted in 40 biilion HUF and 80% of it went to soccer. Orban’s stadium costed 4 billion.

István
Guest

Buddy I was amazed by your comment relating to non-professional American football in Hungary. I look forward to the day when the Chicago Bears pick up a good quarterback from Hungary, lord knows we need one.

petofi
Guest

@Istvan

Huh?
Pick up a quarterback in Hungary?
You jest, Sir I.
A mentally-challenged Hungarico could best serve as a goalpost…or maybe, as part of the end zone turf.
Mind you, if that nut-bar for Seattle Seahawks couldn’t call a timeout before that pass play, a Hungarico may just do after all.
Come to think on it, I think the Seattle offensive coordinator had Hungarico parentage…

Webber
Guest

Now, now! Joe Namath wasn’t the only person of Hungarian ancestry to do well in the American game.

Member

“In brief, the Academy” ORBÁN, THE GOVERNMENT, THE FIDESZ, THE FIDESZ VOTERS, HUNGARIAN SOCCER “and its stadium are a flop.”
(The list could be a lot longer, but why bore the readers, we all know what else is a flop in Hungary now?)

Guest
petofi
Guest
I and Istvan are great readers of Wikipedia. On the Ukraine, here’s what I’ve found in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994. The key lines are these: Seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, “if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used”. Now, the signatories were Great Britain, US, and Russia. And the tricky segment–no doubt KGB inspired–was the phrase, “…in which nuclear weapons are used”. How clever! No country could invade without nuclear weapons (all surrounding countries are small…) with the exception of neighboring Russia. And, as we have seen, the Russians had no need for nuclear weapons. The above mentioned countries must be blushing with shame at their naiveté and how Moscow had fooled them. No wonder Obama is hog-tied and unable to respond. How could the West have signed such a document? “Good Will”? The Russians mine ‘goodwill’ as if it was a natural resource. And let’s try to figure the Russians out on this: what they were after was not the Crimea, or to destabilize the Ukraine for no reason? The HIDDEN AGENDA in all… Read more »
Webber
Guest

All that became clear during the last war in Georgia.
The document you cite says “UN Security Council.” In case you forgot, Russia has a permanent seat and a veto in that body – so from the very start it was clear to everyone who signed that document, and has been clear to everyone who ever read that document that it was not going to help in case of aggression by Russia.
Putin has only Russia and the Russian public by the balls, and he will twist and pull at his delight. “The West” is a figment of his (and some other people’s) imagination. There is not now and never has been a unified West – not once has there been since Charlemagne’s time.
NATO, however, is not a figment of anyone’s imagination.
NATO never, ever said it would defend a country that was not a member of the alliance.

petofi
Guest

I maintain that it was totally irresponsible to sign the Budapest Memorandum. It has allowed the Russians, some 20 years later, to demonstrate that no nation can trust the guarantees made by the world’s great powers. This can only benefit a rogue nation like Russia.

Miki
Guest

Felcsút and it’s stadium shows everything that’s wrong in Hungary. There is really nothing anybody can say that explains this is normal. This is only normal in the word of the Putins, Kims, Mugabes, Chaucheskus etc.
The stadium and the wonder that is Meszaros Lorinc is so embarrassing that it will take a long time before the Hungarians are really taken seriously again. I think even the left-parties don’t realize how pathetic it is that a prime minister gets away with this.
Basically they should reply to any sentence that Orban utters: “EXPLAIN FELCSUT!”
The opposition and media cannot be taken seriously as long as they let him get away with this.

petofi
Guest

“Not seriously”….let’s add a few more groups: judges, professor, priests, teachers, doctors–all are guilty in not standing up for civilized values.

Miki
Guest

Of course you are right, though the difference is that the opposition and (state) media have as primary responsibility to call to account the government for it’s actions. Actually it’s really the state-media that has this responsibility of all the media, because it’s paid by the population. The commercial media has as excuse that they have to focus on making money.

petofi
Guest

Sigh.
The 5 minutes to correct were not enough…

Corrections:

1)…what were they (the Russians) after if it was not the Crimea, and to destabilize the Ukraine..?

(Gorbachev may have signaled ‘peace’–mind you, he was KGB himself–but the KGB has never
lain down its weapons.)

petofi
Guest

Poor Merkel, she must feel totally unsuited with dealing with an amoral Putin: the failure of the
present ceasefire will only go to support Putin’s argument that he has no role in the rebel’s
actions.

az angol beteg
Guest

I’ve never understood why people don’t draw more parallels between this sorry affair and that of Jozsef Stadler?

Stadler made his cash exporting bad wine to Russia whilst avoiding tax (although this is the unremarkable part of the story as most Hungarians avoid paying tax).

He then built a stadium with a capacity of about 4,000 in Akasztó a village on the kiskunság with a population of about 3-4,000. I went there once and the view from the back of the stand looked like an advertisement for alföldi tourism.

Stadler built the stadium and his ego then filled it in a way that people never could!

Akasztó is now rotting away, an unloved and forgotten chapter in Hungary’s ignominious sporting history. Hopefully they’ll bury Orban in the centre circle at felcsút and allow it to disintegrate around him.

Miki
Guest

In defense of Stadler, he paid it with his own money, even though he gathered it in a “Hungarian-way”. And he had the decency to name it after himself.
I do share your last wish and hope it will happen very soon.

tappanch
Guest

Two huge scandals! In a democratic country, one would be enough for a government to resign, and ministers would face the judicial system.

Two detailed articles with charts and documents.

[implicated: minister of agriculture]

http://index.hu/belfold/2015/03/02/kiss_szilard_keleti_nyitas_moszkva_es_orgovany_1_resz/

One of the prominent politicians propagating the Russian friendship has defrauded a credit union of 0.6 BILLION forints. In return, he was promoted to commissioner of the minister of agriculture in 2013.

[implicated: minister of interior, also Mr Habony]

Mr Portik sings from prison to atlatszo:

http://atlatszo.hu/2015/03/02/ennel-a-nagysagrendu-penznel-nincsenek-partszinek-portik-tamas-ingatlanokrol-olajos-alvilagrol-politikai-kapcsolatokrol/

Portik’s former girlfriend’s late husband’s nephew is Orban’s chief advisor, Mr Habony.

tappanch
Guest
Webber
Guest
tappanch
Guest

Hungarians now keep twice as much money abroad than 5 years ago, while the money kept in Hungary has dwindled.
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tappanch
Guest

The deSimicskafication of the street billboard industry has started:

http://blog.atlatszo.hu/2015/03/simicskatlanitas-a-kozteruleti-reklampiacon-is/

tappanch
Guest

The Simicska empire before and after the official fallout with Orban:
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tappanch
Guest

“Up to 400,000 Hungarians have left the home country in the past 5-6 years, with around half of them moving to the British capital.”

“Economic hard times at home is normally cited as the main reason for leaving, but […] a sombre social and political environment are also factors. ”

http://www.euronews.com/2015/02/27/london-calling-why-home-loving-hungarians-are-flocking-to-british-capital/

István
Guest
Petofi there was some public discussion in the USA of the treaty you cited on the sovereignty of Ukaine that was linked to the removal of strategic weapons from tha nation. There is also a big foreign policy trend in the USA that ideologically concedes Ukraine to the “sphere of interest” of Russia. Roy Medvedev in a 2007 article articulated the Russian argument on the sphere of influence the best see http://eng.globalaffairs.ru/number/n_9136 Here in Chicago the University of Chicago professor John J. Mearsheimer argues for simply conceding Ukraine to Russia using Medvedev’s arguments within the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. Needless to say there are many of us here that are unwilling to simply hand over Kiev to Russia and we expect that type of foreign policy perspective to end its dominance when the Obama administration ends. Would these same types here concede the sovereignty of Hungary to Russia? I would suggest some would as long as there were a popular vote or at least a perception of significant support for Hungary returning to being a vassal of Russia. But I believe they are a minority in the USA of people who think about foreign affairs. The problem with confronting… Read more »
Webber
Guest

István – As long as Hungary is a member of NATO, it will be protected from aggression.
Some data for you:
US Military expenditure in 2013 – $640 bn.
Russian military expenditure in 2013 – $87.8 bn.
Lists here>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures
I am not convinced the US needs to spend more than it does now.
Whether Orbán wants Hungary to stay in NATO is another question. Whether Orbán’s Hungary should be expelled from NATO is yet another.

petofi
Guest

Non of what you right explains that the US, with Britain and Germany, were totally gulled
by the memorandum.

A country, Ukraine, acted in good faith to disarm itself believing that it would be protected
by the big four. The word ‘nuclear attack’ should never have been allowed in the agreement.

Webber
Guest

No – the guarantee of the UN Security Council should not have been allowed in that agreement. Everyone who signed that knew that Russia could veto any UN SC resolution.
You say Russia looks cool? Russia, I maintain, looks like s..t on ice.
The US was never going to go to war for Ukraine, and Kiev knew that when it signed the memorandum. Kiev hoped that Moscow would keep its word. In the Yeltsin years, that hope wasn’t so ridiculous.
That was the best Ukraine was going to get.
And incidentally, you’ve forgotten the MASSIVE aid the US poured into Ukraine because of the Memorandum – most apparently embezzled. – I quote “Total U.S. assistance since independence has been more than $3 billion.” This was before the war started.

Webber
Guest

P.S. The words “nuclear attack” were probably included to assure Ukraine that it would not be attacked with nuclear weapons if it gave up its nuclear weapons since a pre-emptive strike is, supposedly, out of the question among all more-or-less civilized nations.
Even given all the awful things Putin is doing, I am rather certain that if Ukraine were to be attacked by some third party using nuclear weapons, Russia would be among the first to join a Security Council declaration and action against the attacker.
I maintain that it was rather a good thing for American security that Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons. That state has not been exactly what one would call “stable” over its recent history. There were, in the early 1990s, real fears that some nuclear material from Ukraine (and Russia) could get onto the black market. In those days there was no telling then that someone named Putin would come to power in Russia or what he would do.
What Russia is doing to Ukraine is despicable, but that’s a different issue and one that could not be foreseen.

Házmester
Guest

OT:

“Századvég and foreign policy” with Connie Mack (a former congressman, now a lobbyist, and a loyal Arthur Finkelstein client in the past) as speaker — appropriately held at the Csekonics residence (for non-Hungarians: the members of the aristocratic family Csekonics are proverbial for their lavish lifestyle).

http://munchausenparokaja.tumblr.com/post/112504307246/ott-a-helyunk

buddy
Guest

The title is “Public diplomacy – Hungary’s new path for foreign relations”

Here’s a definition of public diplomacy from Wikipedia: “PUBLIC DIPLOMACY refers to government-sponsored programs intended to inform or influence public opinion in other countries; its chief instruments are publications, motion pictures, cultural exchanges, radio and television.”

Ok, so based on this definition I can see why Andy Vajna was invited to participate, I suppose. But Connie Mack? A lobbyist’s job is the exact opposite of what public diplomacy is.

Also, some of those other participants seem a bit odd. Will a dance group or the Museum of Fine Arts really put Hungary on a new foreign relations path?

petofi
Guest

What has transpired now is that in an ‘Illiberal Democracy’ and in ‘Putin’s Democracy’…the level
of diplomatic discourse and agreement has been lowered to the standard these people have been habituated to in their personal lives…

spectator
Guest

One more step toward the total control of the brainwashed masses.
Has been done before a few times, unfortunately.

I wonder, if it was just as simple in 2015 to manipulate other nations too, or it some Hungaricum to let ourselves led down the very same path again and again, never learning.

Webber
Guest

As to Putin’s democracy, the latest reports from Russia are that CCTV cameras nearest the site of Nemtsov’s murder had been turned off before the murder “for maintenance” – story here with links to Russian stories within:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/11444367/Boris-Nemtsov-murder-security-cameras-turned-off-for-maintenance.html

GW
Guest
The performance of a government in terms of economics, education, social programs, or foreign policy can be very hard for the average voter to judge. A government with a strong parliamentary majority and very good messaging in the media can sustain a public image considerably at variance with the actual situation. However, when a government strongly identifies itself with a field with immediate, unmistakable and objectively measurable performance, and that measurement is readily understood by a broad public, then it has little leeway to obfuscate the actual strength of its performance. Orban’s government, and Orban personally, has made a huge and visible investment in soccer. The result of that investment, measured in the performance of both those teams and institutions in which it has made significant domestic investment and in the international performance of Hungarian teams should be immediately obvious to even the most loyal Fidesz supporter among Hungarian sport fans: games lost, attendance down, and a weak position International player trade. (Not to mention the conspicuous lack of comparable investment in the aquatic sports Hungary really performs well in!) Could it be that, as this reality about poor performance in Soccer sinks in, the loss of Soccer fans will… Read more »
Webber
Guest

Interesting question. Orbán can’t appear at some soccer matches without the fans booing and whistling at him (I hear Ferencváros fans REALLY hate him).

Member
Member

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Member

Ohhhhh. I wish I knew about this a few days ago. One of the universities my daughter applied to is Concordia, and I was planning to visit the school. (Did I say, I am confident she gets in?) It would of been excellent to coincide the events…. I hope you are going Stevan, and “report back” to us.

Member

Dear Some1, actually I did post it a few days ago, but only the URL. It’s only now I learned that posting a jpeg displays it.

We will tape the event, so you will be able to see it online afterward — possibly even live, if we can arrange the webstreaming. (If so, will re-post later.)

Member

Thank you Stevan.

Realitycheck
Guest

@Stevan, Will this be videotaped? If so, could you please post a link.

tappanch
Guest

Perhaps I am the latest person to read about this, but Orban met the new US ambassador to Hungary Ms Bell in Andy Vajna’s house on February 23rd.

http://mno.hu/magyar_nemzet_belfoldi_hirei/orban-es-bell-egyutt-vacsorazott-1274448

Istvan
Guest

Webber in relation to US military expenditures relative to Russia. Assuming Putin remains in power for many years to come and the United States is faced with threats also from China and Islamic State or its future offshoots the budget will have to increase significantly in order for my country to retain its global status.

The greatest threat to our defense status would be the election of the isolationist Republican Rand Paul as president. Most of the other Republicans preparing to run for President recognize the need for increased military spending, I believe Ms. Clinton on the Democrat side recognizes this also, but her quandary is cutting human services and education funding to pay for it.

Paul
Guest

I am a bit puzzled by Orbán’s worries about his academy not surviving in the ‘Premier’ League.

They are currently 9th out of 16 teams, with a comfortable, mid-season, tally of 24 points – twice the bottom team’s – and only 10 points shy of Loki’s.

For an ‘academy’ team, who shouldn’t even be playing in this league, that’s pretty good going.

Paul
Guest
As for attendances at football games – I just had a look at the figures for Loki (Debrecen) for the first half of this season. By chance, the first home game of the season was against the Puskás Akadémia, and they got a decent crowd of 5,100 (about half the capacity of the stadium). But I think this was the first competitive game at the new stadium, so this is by no means a typical ‘gate’. The second home game was against Haladás, a team I know nothing about (except that they are currently bottom of the table and look certain to be relegated), and this time the attendance was 3,500 (these are suspiciously round figures, by the way). I suspect this was also an untypically high attendance, with the ‘new stadium’ effect still bringing in extra support. By the third home game, the attendance was down to 3,000 (another suspiciously round figure), and after that the average gate is around 2,600 – which is about the size of the gates I remember from the games I attended at the old stadium. This excludes one game – the home fixture against Ferencváros – which got an incredible attendance of 8,157.… Read more »
Jj
Guest

Who won?

Paul
Guest

Loki – 1-0

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