The Quaestor scandal and football

Perhaps if Prime Minister Viktor Orbán were not a crazed football fan his government wouldn’t be in such a pickle today. What does football have to do with the Quaestor scandal? A lot. Although the Orbán government is desperately trying to blame the socialist-liberal governments (2002-2010) for the collapse of Quaestor, the close relationship between Fidesz and Csaba Tarsoly, the CEO of Quaestor, dates back to 2001, during the first Orbán administration. And it was all about football.

In 2001 Tarsoly purchased the Győr football stadium and 17 acres of land for 650 million forints from Rába Rt. While he was at it, he also bought the ETO FC football team. With the purchases he assumed their heavy debt load, plus the stadium was no longer up to snuff. He needed cash and, knowing  the boundless interest in football among the Fidesz leadership, he approached Tamás Deutsch, then sports minister, who promised him 900 million forints. He also went to the socialist mayor of Győr for additional funds and got a promise of 500 million. The people of the city were thrilled that someone had bought the financially ailing football team that had seen better days, and therefore the mayor gladly offered help. Moreover, when Fidesz lost the election in 2002 he himself made sure that the new socialist-liberal government would fulfill the Fidesz government’s promise of financial help.

Back in 2001 Tarsoly had the support not only of the mayor but also of two Fidesz members of the city council, one of whom was the young political hopeful, Péter Szijjártó. Tarsoly may have been counting on a Fidesz victory in 2002 because three weeks before the election, in the presence of the Fidesz members of the city council, he laid the cornerstone of the new stadium although there was no valid building permit yet. I suspect that the cornerstone-laying ceremony was designed to help the Fidesz election campaign.

Fidesz’s loss at the national election must have been a blow to Tarsoly because he had only verbal promises of financial help, no cash in hand. So he rushed back to the socialist mayor asking for his continuing support, which he got. Moreover, the mayor promised to lobby on his behalf with the new sports minister, Ferenc Dénes, and later with Ferenc Gyurcsány, who held the post between May 2003 and September 2004.

Of course, the money that had been pledged was nowhere near enough to build a stadium that could seat 16,000 people. Moreover, as time went on, Tarsoly’s ambitions grew. He also wanted to have a hotel, a plaza, and a high school for the students of the football academy run by ETO FC. So, at the same time, Tarsoly applied for a series of loans from the state-owned Magyar Fejlesztési Bank [MFB] (Hungarian Development Bank), which eventually amounted to 16.9 billion forints. The actual construction and its financing had some setbacks, especially given the 2008 economic crisis, but the stadium and the plaza were finished in 2009. The hotel opened only in 2012.

Photo by Sándor H. Szabó

Photo by Sándor H. Szabó

Already in 2009, that is under socialist stewardship, MFB had worries about the way Quaestor was handling the project and two years later, when the Fidesz-appointed president took over the bank, he also considered the project to be one of twelve that were risky. He even asked for a police investigation, but the police or the prosecutors didn’t follow through. 444.hu suspects that the Orbán government didn’t want to make a fuss because of Tarsoly’s generous support of football. In fact, as time went on, both Viktor Orbán and Péter Szijjártó praised Tarsoly and his project at every turn. Orbán often visited the ETO Park in Győr, and the team became one of his favorites, especially since his own son was a member of ETO FC for a while. Apparently, when Audi moved its factory to Győr, Orbán’s only request in exchange for the generous government support extended to the German manufacturer was sponsorship of ETO FC. Indeed until a few days ago Audi gave 300 million forints every year to the local team.

Of course, Szijjártó, a Győr native, was thrilled. In 2012 when the four-star hotel opened, Szijjártó praised the project as the most modern sports complex in Central Europe. He went on and on about the “family-friendly plaza”and the stadium itself, which in his opinion is “the most precious gem” of all stadiums. Of course, this was before the tsunami of football stadiums thanks to Viktor Orbán’s insatiable appetite. The Győr stadium seats 16,000. A week ago only 3,800 fans were present.

As far as the plaza is concerned, it is an unmitigated disaster. It turned out that there was no need for a third shopping center in Győr. At present 44 stores out of a total of 80 are empty. The mall reminds people of the plaza in the film “Dawn of the Dead” except “not even the zombies come here.”

Some commentators speculated that the reason Tarsoly was optimistic about getting financial assistance from the government in early March was Viktor Orbán’s passion for football. Judging from the short note the prime minister sent to Tarsoly on March 9th, there might still have been a glimmer of hope as far as the owner of ETO FC was concerned. Orbán was ready to talk about Tarsoly’s proposal even at that late stage of the crisis. Of course, we have no idea what transpired in the afternoon of March 9th and the morning of the 10th when Mihály Varga’s deputy had a chat with Tarsoly, but it looks as if Orbán was unable to convince the ministry of national economy that saving Quaestor was economically and politically feasible. Even if Tarsoly owns ETO FC, Orbán’s favorite team.

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Guest
Because of the Easter calm in commenter activity I take the liberty to post a lengthy OT comment on the ship metaphor. Or rather an indirect comment as it is a compilation of examples. Wikipedia wrote: The Ship of State is a famous and oft-cited metaphor put forth by Plato in Book VI of the Republic (488e–489d). It likens the governance of a city-state to the command of a naval vessel and ultimately argues that the only men fit to be captain of this ship (Greek: ναῦς) are philosopher kings, benevolent men with absolute power who have access to the Form of the Good. Isaiah 33:23 said: Your tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail… Niccolo Machiavelli wrote: We can’t help but wonder who will be steering our ship of state a hundred years from now. Henry Wardsworth Logfellow wrote: Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State! Sail on, O Union, strong and great! Humanity with all its fears, With all the hopes of future years, Is hanging breathless on thy fate! Gabriele D’Annunzio said: Arm the prow and sail toward the wind. Adolph Hitler wrote in MK: It is… Read more »
exTor
Guest

Interesting discursive awaiting the next Fidesz storm, Jean.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow might be a bit put-off by your mangling of his name, which you conflated with the name of William Wordsworth, another poet, one who lived earlier and in England, as opposed to HWL, an American who lived in New England, not far from Éva.

Member

I hope (and trust) that Orban is beginning to get some unsettling “there but for the grace the gods go I” feelings as he contemplates the fall and fate of his chum Tarsoly, and now his troops in NAV.

My guess would be that there’s also a lot of mounting resentment in the ranks at Fidesz, especially now among the bankrupted mayors. Orban is no longer always getting his way and that too is probably beginning to rattle him, control-freak that he is.

If Sziijarto is sucked into the undertow and Orban realizes he can no longer protect his minions, that should raise his anxiety level another few notches.

The Fidesz faithful are by now almost clones of Orban, so the imminent troubles certainly do not represent a revolt of the righteous — just psychopathic crooks, but, free of Orban’s megalomanic delusions of grandeur, they are just anxious to secure their dosh rather than go down with the Viktorious Leader that’s driven the Turul ship of state onto the shoals.

Lakatos
Guest

And finally the usual Fidesz-szoci (MSZP, Socialist) background deal – as there always is. See link. Scratch the surface and there’s always a szoci-fidesznik deal.

One of the fundamental problems of the left-wing, of MSZP, of the Socialists is that nobody believed that they won’t steal again.

Their reputation for corruption, lack of values, entering terrible “compromises” (ie. deals in which they lose) is so ingrained that people are afraid to vote for them.

At the same time Jobbik looks clean. When corruption is one of the main problems voters are fed up with, looking corrupt and dumb is not a good position to be in.

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20150403_Magyar_Radio_szekhaz_Quaestor_Kondor

Member

“At the same time Jobbik looks clean.” Are you kidding me? Clean from what? From the Questor scandal? Are some Hungarin so dumb that they will base their vote on the Questor scandal only? Jobbik is financed by Russia, and likely also making sweet deals with certain Middle-East groups. THey believe that they are the untouchable ones. Untouchably dumb, if you ask me. When it comes to many groups they could care less about if you are Jewish or an “innocent” catholic. For the sake of Hungary, Hungarians should stay away from Jobbik more so than from Fidesz. Only very short sighted people could make a stamens about the cleanness of Jobbik. THey are dirty, but in different way.

Kuiti333
Guest

Every jobbik leader is delusionally chauvinist, and their followers are strongly advised to wake up from the love affair.

petofi
Guest

“…jobbik looks clean…”

Only ‘looks’….

Once in power, 98% of Hungarians will act true to their training and experience: grab
what you can for yourself and the hell with the rest. (Hajra Magyarok!!!)

exTor
Guest

The appeal of the far right to the electorate is not to be discounted, given the baggage that Gyurcsány seems to be lugging around with him. The Wikipedia article on him connects Gyurcsány to two issues (a plagiarism charge and the Balatonőszödi speech), however he has not yet been connected (as far as I can tell) to any financial improprieties.

So, after Fidesz, for the electorate it might be a tossup between the Gyurcsány it knows or the Jobbik it doesn’t know enough !!!

petofi
Guest

Gyurcsany should’ve left the political stage in 2009; and allow Bajnai and the rest
to shift the best they can. But, oh no: he can’t do without the limelight. Gyurcsany is the biggest gift Orban could’ve gotten–someone he can kick around and help use to tar and feather any of the opposition that comes into contact with him!

spectator
Guest

So that’s why Orbán couldn’t keep his hands clean?
It must be 🙂

Member

Proof! Do you know what it means? “plagiarism” Can you quote your proof? I think your mother was a goat and your father a hen. It is true, now it is on the Internet! THe Balatonoszod speech was talked over and over and over and over again on this blog. The meaning of the speech was discussed so many times. PLURAL – SINGULAR. Gyurcsany referred to how governments (including the socialist government) sasy things to win an election and that should be stopped. At the other hand Orban clearly used singular when he said that diplomats should not listen what he says! Big difference. The electorate at the other hand should know plenty of Jobbik’s doing and its financing from Russia.

In reality, I have no idea that based on facts what are you talking about…

spectator
Guest

Oh, dear me!
“…The Wikipedia article on him connects Gyurcsány to two issues (a plagiarism charge and the Balatonőszödi speech)…”

And I have seen a graffiti stating that Gyurcsány also a ‘thief and a traitor of the nation’, which may indeed connect him with the aforementioned financial improprieties…

I really hope that Polt will act without delay, since there’s the proof!

Come on!

Member

I guess I just started to write my reply before your reply was posted. Agree with you fully.

spectator
Guest

Seems that the Fidesz communication quite successfully managed to hammer in the ‘necessary’ connotations, for eons to come.

Good work, really!

spectator
Guest

As a matter of record, so far nothing of the so called “socialist broker-scandal” turned out to be true – everything what the Fidesz and/or the Hungarian Government published/declared/stated/uttered or any other way made public so far just a heap of lies.

It doesn’t prove in any way that there isn’t any connection, but it certainly underscore the fact that there is quite some headless turmoil taking place in Fidesz circles.

The fact that the ‘boys’ couldn’t even managed to lie properly about something is by itself quite a new phenomena, simply unprecedented!

Otherwise seems like Orbán ready to use the latest developments to clear the premises, even takes some losses in order to have airtight control.
Just watch!

petofi
Guest

Sometimes the point of lying is to offer up a counter-argument. Sometimes, the point is just to confuse the issue as much as you can…

Guest

Re: Isaiah 33:23 said: Your tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail…

I see Orban antics also spread to football……………………….

Speaking of Isaiah’s mention of ‘tacklings’, I’d think Viktor isn’t playing well on that score. Too many ‘red cards’ all over the place if you get the drift. Bad bad mgr for letting it happen.

And if he’s so hot on ‘passion’ for football I’d think it wojld be magnanimous if he’d put his own money on the line and help to develop Magyar football. I can see it now ..’The Viktor Orban School of Fideszi Football’. If he’s paying some can be playing.

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