KEIR RADNEDGE in Budapest: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban used the platform of the Opening Ceremony here in the Hungarian capital to warn western European politicians not to boycott matches of Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.
Orban, who leads the governing Fidesz party, was responding to the intended absence of European Union leaders – including German Chancellor Angela Merkel – from their nations’ matches in protest over Ukraine’s treatment of jailed former premier Yulia Tymoshenko.
But Orban, acknowledging that Euro 2012 is organised by European federation UEFA and not by world authority FIFA, did not miss the opportunity to lecture his fellow European political leaders.
He said: “Sport and football should be about uniting people but a boycott can only divide. It will not hurt political leaders but only the ordinary people and fans.
“I remember the boycotts and anti-boycotts of the Olympic Games in the 1980s and the wounds it created in the souls of the fans. These are wounds which have never been healed and which take away and destroy the joy of our wonderful joint games.”
The main business of FIFA Congress will be concerned with approving a series of reports on the organisation’s finances and the slow progress of the reform project launched last year by president Sepp Blatter.
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