Organising a FIFA Congress is always a mammoth logistical undertaking, and this year the Hungarian Football Federation (HFF) will be making sure everything runs smoothly. The 62nd FIFA Congress is being held in Budapest on 24 and 25 May but, for the HFF’s President Sandor Csanyi, the intense efforts behind the scenes barely measure up to his sense of pride – and his joy at being able to show delegates from FIFA’s 208 member associations the beauty of his country’s capital.
With time ticking down to the opening ceremony, FIFA.com caught up with Mr Csanyi during a rare moment of calm between organisational meetings.
FIFA.com: What does it mean to the HFF to host the FIFA Congress?
Sandor Csanyi: It’s a very big event. The last FIFA Congress we hosted was in 1930, when FIFA had just 27 member nations. There are now 208 member associations in total, so as you can imagine it’s not the same format at all. Even the United Nations has fewer members, but we’re absolutely delighted that all the leaders of world football will be gathering here in Budapest. We want to show them our town, which it’s true we’re very proud of. We hope they’ll come back often!
Are you ready for the start of the Congress?
Yes, I think so. It’s a huge organisational effort, but FIFA’s staff has helped us a lot for several months by guiding us to make the right choices. In the end, I think we’ve taken the correct decisions and I really hope the delegates will enjoy their stay. We set up a taskforce within the association; everyone has responsibilities in separate domains and everything’s going well. But a lot of events get held in Hungary, so we have solid organisational know-how and excellent experts.
What have been the biggest challenges for you?
The real challenge has been the issue of flights, for a simple reason: the Hungarian airline company went bankrupt three months ago. It suddenly became more difficult to find flights to Budapest, but we managed to do it and everyone should be coming. The other challenge was that we really wanted to give the best possible image of Budapest – because of that, we wanted them to stay in town so they’d get an authentic vision of our city and a real feel for it.
Looking beyond the Congress, what aims do you have for Hungarian football?
Two years ago, we were ranked 62nd in the FIFA ranking and now we’re 35th, which is a great achievement. What I’m proudest of, though, are our programmes for youngsters. The number of children involved has risen from 67,000 to 100,000 and the number of clubs with youth sections has gone up from 2,900 to 3,500. We’ve also started a programme to renovate football pitches because, in the last few decades, around 1,000 pitches have been lost and replaced by commercial centres or buildings. Our programme, which we’re working on with schools and the government, has allowed us to install 200 artificial pitches per year and renovate 150 natural pitches. All these programmes will undoubtedly help us return Hungarian football to the front line of the game.