UEFA president Michel Platini has paid a two-day visit to Hungary for talks with the country's political leaders and officials from the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ).
After dining with Hungarian football leaders on Tuesday, Mr Platini was a guest of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest on Wednesday. MLSZ president Sándor Csányi, general secretary Márton Vági and vice-president Sándor Berzi joined the discussions.
The main topics of the talks were related to European football challenges. The parties agreed that despite the financial crisis, football still maintained its strength. Mr Platini said that UEFA would need the support of the European Union (EU) to find solutions to issues such as betting irregularities and the protection of youth players. The discussions in Budapest were of particular significance, as Hungary will hold the presidency of the EU in 2011
The MLSZ leaders informed the UEFA president of strategic changes made by the association's new leadership, such as the revamped structure of the national federation, the MLSZ's future programmes and the planned investments in terms of infrastructure. The prime minister promised to build a new national arena in the near future.
"In the next three years, we plan to build 500 football pitches as part of the OLLÉ programme," said Sándor Csányi, who welcomed the financial support being made available by UEFA, in particular under its HatTrick assistance scheme. "The national team has moved up 21 places in the FIFA national team rankings in the latest period. This is a sign that it was a good decision to appoint Sándor Egervári [as coach] and to base the squad on young players."
"I am glad to say that we have had very fruitful discussions," said Mr Platini. "The prime minister has a great knowledge of football, and he is aware of all the relevant issues. We think the same way. Because Hungary will hold the EU presidency, we talked about how he can help UEFA to achieve our goals, as there are several issues that are waiting for a solution, but which rely on the support of the EU. The biggest problems are racism and violence, as well as betting crimes, which are especially dangerous.
"UEFA and the national associations have declared zero tolerance in this matter, but the football world can only assist the authorities, as it is their duty to carry out the investigation and take action."
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