The Hungarian Tennis Association (MTSZ) elected their new president, Fidesz MP and former PMO Head János Lázár on Monday. The politician inherited a deficit of HUF 3.5 billion from the previous management, led by Fidesz MP Lajos Szűcs. Szűcs missed the meeting, but he wrote a letter which highlighted the merits of the past and did not say anything about the deficit. Lázár and his vice-president László Markovits said it is the task of the authorities to find out what caused the 3.5 billion forints (EUR 11 million) deficit in the tennis association.
In his letter, the former association president Lajos Szűcs, reported on the success of the MTSZ, such as that the organization, with a total budget of HUF 135 million, has achieved success in several areas during the nine years of his presidency. The now ex-president did not mention anything about the deficit and what – or who – caused it, neither about the ongoing mud-slinging and conflicts within the association.
The antecedent of Monday’s extraordinary general meeting of the association was that on May 13th, five members of the board – Farkas Bársony, János Dudik, Péter Gém, György Molnár, and Csaba Viszló all resigned. The members of the presidency resigned due to – in addition to internal conflicts – management problems that arose under the previous leadership. In recent years, the Hungarian Tennis Association has been particularly vocal about the organization’s management and competition issues. In connection with these, the Budapest General Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation in the autumn of 2018. The report of Miklós Fekete, the financial commissioner appointed to screen the Hungarian Tennis Association, showed a debt of HUF 3.792 billion (EUR 11 million), which was first reported by leftist daily Népszava.
At the same time, the tennis association indicated in its reply that this is the level of debt, but its net budgetary impact is “only” HUF 2.4 billion (EUR 7 million). Among other things, MTSZ did not pay about HUF 87 million (EUR 251,000) to its 42 subsidized competitors, just as it owed almost HUF 70 million (EUR 200,000) in wages to its employees. In addition, many domestic and foreign companies expected money from them, as did the Ministry of Human Resources.
Before his election, Lázár said he did not come to make politics but rather to resolve the situation and he wants “to close the past and get the association out of the current situation. To do this, I need people in the presidency who are independent and do not want to get money out of tennis, but to work on it.”
Last week, Lázár said he sees the presidency as a fixed-term task for a year, during which his primary role would be to help close the past and consolidate the association, both financially and professionally. He added: “I do not want to lay judgement down upon the debate participants, but it is an unquestionable fact that although Lajos Szűcs’s presidency has brought many positive initiatives, some of them later became the basis of disagreements.” He also said that the association itself is not investigating the budget management, it is a task of the authorities to find out what caused the 3.5 billion deficit.
The new vice-president, former tennis player László Markovits and president of Vasas, however, openly criticized the former president Szűcs rather sharply in recent years. Now he will have a close insight into the financial management over the past eight years, in connection with which a lack of transparency was quoted in many cases, and many even complained that the presidency was not informed on a regular basis of the budget management.
Markovits told pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet that the scale of the deficit was shocking and that the organization was a hair’s breadth away from liquidation. The vice-president said that authorities need to find out what led the association to near-bankruptcy, admitting that the new leadership is groping in the dark for the time being, as the handover is only just beginning.
featured photo: illustration (Tamás Kovács/MTI)