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OTP Ceo’s row with Fidesz politicians over football debacle

October 18th, 2013

Several left-wing and liberal commentators suspect that the harsh words addressed to Sándor Csányi, as president of the Hungarian Football Association by important Fidesz politicians may be due to to his main job as CEO of  Hungary’s number one Bank.

Sándor Csányi was elected president  of the Football Association in 2010 and used to be regarded as PM Viktor Orbán’s important ally. However, over the past year there have been skirmishes between the banker and Fidesz luminaries (see BudaPost August 16). Following the humiliating defeat of Hungary’s team by Holland in the World Cup qualifyers (BudaPost, October 14), Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch, Fidesz spokesman Máté Kocsis and other prominent Fidesz politicians published scathing comments calling for Csányi to go and accusing him of misusing the funds meant for football talent management. Csányi shot back, saying Deutsch had bought “scrap metal for security gates” when he was Minister of Sports and Youth in the first Fidesz-led government; while Kocsis should confine himself to “lying in his capacity as party spokesman”. He also told the press he had spoken to Viktor Orbán who had not asked him to resign. OTP Bank is in the focus of attention because of government pressure as well as a wave of civil litigation to ease the burdens of forex mortgage holders.

Péter Németh, editor-in-chief of Népszava, argues that if Csányi defends himself referring to PM Orbán, he must know that “Fidesz warlords” would not attack him without their leader’s approval. The Prime Minister will not send him packing personally, Németh speculates, although he is certain that behind the scenes, the Premier favours a coordinated attack that would eventually force Csányi into resignation. The defeat of the Hungarian team is only the straw that broke the camel’s back – Csányi has fallen out of favour as leader of OTP Bank. In a swift concluding turn, Németh remarks that If the richest Hungarian and one of the most powerful can be dropped like that, perhaps even Orbán can fall.

Népszabadság depicts the remarks of Fidesz luminaries as sign of the renewal of hostilities between Csányi and the government. Like Németh , the authors of the front page editorial also believe that the football debacle is less important in this story than the problem of forex mortgages, noting that Csányi himself said so too. On the other hand, they remark that Csányi is also vice chairman of MOL, Hungary’s oil multinational, and PM Orbán demonstratively appeared on MOL CEO Zsolt Hernádi’s side, at a time when Hernádi is wanted by Interpol on a Croatian bribery charge (See BudaPost, October 12).They inaugurated a new MOL cracking plant, which will crush “overlarge molecules’ to butadiene” – and the government will do the same, Népszabadság concludes in a clear hint at Mr Csányi as being the “big molecule”.

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