April 17, 2007

Hungary & Croatia hope to win joint bid for Euro2012

Budapest Times: D-Day for football bid

Europe’s top football body UEFA will make its final decision on who is to host the 2012 European Football Championships on 18 April, and Hungary and Croatia’s joint bid is still in the hunt. While it is not certain Hungary and Croatia will win - especially since Italy is still in the mix along with a joint bid from Poland and Ukraine - the bidding committee will be crossing everything it can cross in the hope that the competition can come to Hungarian soil and regenerate the struggling game.

Opportunity to rebuild

Hungarian football is in a terrible state, but rather than try and hide the fact, the committee made this the basis of an emotive bid. In an official document handed to UEFA entitled “Give us a chance,” the committee paints a picture of a national game in need of a helping hand.

Tamás Gyárfás, chairman of the Hungarian Bidding Committee, acknowledged that Italy is much better placed in terms of infrastructure, fanbase and quality of football, but called on UEFA to address the balance between the rich and the poor.

“For a long time now European football has split into two camps: top dogs and also-rans,” he wrote in the bid. “If no helping hand takes care of those lagging behind, the distance between those ahead and those behind is bound to grow.”

And Hungary certainly is lagging behind. While in the heady days of Ferenc Puskás in the 1950s Hungary was considered the best national team in the world, the game is now in crisis. The national team has failed to qualify for a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup and does not look likely to reverse that trend soon, with the team well off the pace in the qualifiers for the 2008 championships. Club games draw only a few thousand fans, many of the stadiums are crumbling into disrepair and their most illustrious club, Ferencváros, is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

Hopefully it'll be good news from the committee tomorrow.

Posted by Kyer at April 17, 2007 06:08 PM | TrackBack