Hungarian Conservative

MLSZ Chairman Sándor Csányi Lauds the Successes of Hungarian Football of the Past 13 Years

Sándor Csányi at the award ceremony at the Sándor Palace where he was bestowed on the Grand Cross of the Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen on 31 March 2023.
Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI
Csányi also set out an ambitious goal: he wants to bring the UEFA Champions League final to Budapest, in 2026 at the earliest.

The annual meeting of delegates at the Hungarian Football Association (MLSZ) took place last week. Evidently, Chairman Sándor Csányi was also present at the event, and took the opportunity to speak of all the achievements Hungarian football has made in the 13 years. The right-wing Fidesz-KDNP coalition took power in 2010, and made sports—most prominently, football—a strategic sector for the country. Csányi, who is the Chairman and CEO of OTP Bank and probably Hungary’s most successful businessman and entrepreneur, took over the leadership of MLSZ the same year. Consequently, huge developments took place in the world of Hungarian football. Csányi’s outstanding contributions to the Hungarian economy and sports were recognised with the highest state award, the Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen in March this year.

1,525 new football pitches have been built since 2010, while an additional 2,640 have been renovated.

This gives a lot more opportunities to Hungarians across the country to take part in their favourite pastime on fields in good conditions. The number of registered Hungarian footballers has also risen, from just 24,000 in 2011 to 104,000 in 2021. Chairman Csányi specifically mentioned the increase in the number of female footballers taking part in the sport in an organised manner. He said:

‘When we started, women’s football was not even on the ground level, it was nowhere, to be precise. Our goal was to make major investments in this area, and I’m proud to say we have experienced significant developments. We had 8,000 registered women’s footballers in 2013. Today, that number stands at 40,000. I consider that a great success.’

After the enumeration of the previous years’ successes, Csányi went on to set out an ambitious goal:

he wants to bring the UEFA Champions League final to Budapest.

The obvious choice for venue would be the Puskás Aréna. The stadium, which has a capacity of 63,000 seats, opened in 2019, also under the reign of Sándor Csányi as the head of MLSZ. On 31 May, it will be hosting the final for the Europa League, the second most prestigious European club competition. If all goes well with the organisation of the event, it would serve as a great case for Budapest’s candidacy for the most prestigious UEFA competition final, the Champions League—Csányi claimed 2026 is the earliest feasible date to arrange that.

However, he also expressed some regret—he would like to see more Hungarian players in the starting line-up of Ferencváros. The country’s most popular team has seen considerable success lately on the international stage, but they did it with almost all foreign players.

The men’s national team qualified for the last two European Championships in 2016 and 2021 (postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic), and is well positioned to do so again in 2024, given their qualifying group draw and a promising start (a 3–0 victory against Bulgaria). However, they failed to make it to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Chairman Csányi, somewhat facetiously, said that if national team coach Marco Rossi manages to take his team to the 2026 competition, Rossi ‘will be displayed at the National Museum after his death’.

Csányi also set out an ambitious goal: he wants to bring the UEFA Champions League final to Budapest, in 2026 at the earliest.