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The goal that gave hope to Zeljeznicar in Székesfehérvár: Bosnian player Haris Skoro (in white) scored past Videoton goalkeeper Péter Disztl | Oslobodjenje

Bosnia & Hungary: sports anniversaries

Great jubilees are being commemorated in 2014 and 2015 and the most interesting topic seems to be the two sport events that marked an epoch of relations between two friendly countries. As the Bosnian ambassador has written for a recent issue of Diplomacy & Trade, remembering those events evokes great emotions both in Hungary and in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

2014 marks the 30-year anniversary of the Winter Olympic Games held in Sarajevo, then of Yugoslavia. It also marks the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand, which started the First World War.

Excellent Olympics

When the International Olympic Committee, headed by Juan Antonio Samaranch, was deciding which city would have the honor to host the XIV Winter Olympics in 1984, between Sarajevo, Sapporo (Japan) or Göteborg (Sweden), the decision fell on Sarajevo. There were two main reasons behind this. Back then, Yugoslavia was a neutral country (not officially belonging to any of the Cold War blocks) and one of the leaders of the Non-Aligned movement and hence, it was considered that there would be no Olympic boycott, as there had been at the Summer Olympics in Moscow 1980 by the United States and other countries, due to the military intervention of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

The International Olympic Committee also took into consideration the fact that 1984 was the 70 year anniversary of the start of the First World War and the assassination in Sarajevo and that holding the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo would represent a message of peace in the world: for the wars that happened never to be repeated.

No one in the country could have ever imagined that, after the wonderful year of 1984, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Yugoslavia were only seven years from the outbreak of a new bloody war.

The Olympics in Sarajevo were perfectly organized and took place without any boycott. 49 Olympic Committees participated, including the Hungarian, with over 2,500 athletes and officials and 7,283 journalists attending and over 2 billion people following the sports news from Sarajevo all around the world.

The Olympics of 1984 has been the brightest moment in the history of the country, the brightest moment Sarajevo and its surrounding area.

Hungary was represented at the Olympic Games in Sarajevo by nine competitors in four disciplines: Péter Kozma in Alpine skiing; József Lihi, Zsolt Kovács, László Palácsik, János Spisa and Gábor Mayer (the latter carrying the Hungarian flag at the opening ceremony) in biathlon; Klára Engi and Attila Tóth in ice dancing; and Emese Németh Hunyady in speed skating.

Unfortunately, Hungary did not win a medal but a skier, Jure Franko brought a silver medal to Yugoslavia.

The loudest silence

Next year (in April 2015), it will be the 30th anniversary of the historical football duel between Zeljeznicar from Sarajevo and Videoton from Székesfehérvár (SW of Budapest) in the UEFA Cup semi-final.

The first leg match was played in Székesfehérvár on April 10, 1985. Videoton beat Zeljeznicar 3:1. In the return game two weeks later in Sarajevo’s Grbavica Stadium it very much looked like Zeljeznicar was going to win as – two minutes before the end – it was leading 2:0 (enough to qualify for the final on the away goals rule). However, Videoton defender József Csuhay, whose name is still strongly remembered in Sarajevo even 30 years later, scored a goal.

At that moment, the loudest silence in the history of Zeljeznicar prevailed in the stadium. Videoton went through to the UEFA Cup final to play against Real Madrid.

Zeljeznicar was just two minutes from qualifying for the grand final and coach Ivica Osim just a step away from the triumph. It was really important duel between BiH and Hungarian football. My Hungarian friends eagerly remember these years, the most recent ‘good old days’ when Hungarian football experienced international success.

Hungarian football fans are expecting new international achievements because it is already close to three decades since Hungary last qualified for the Football World Cup in 1986.

I wish their dreams and hopes come true soon and for that let's remember the names of the footballers of Videoton that brought about that success almost thirty years ago. Their line-up at the first leg was:

Péter DISZTL – Tibor VÉGH, László DISZTL, József  CSUHAY, Gábor HORVÁTH – Gyõzõ BURCSA, Géza WITTMAN, Imre VADÁSZ – István PALKOVICS (Gyula VASZIL, min. 67), József SZABÓ, László GYENTI (István BORSÁNYI, min. 64.). Coach: Ferenc KOVÁCS.

Finishing on the high note for Bosnians, too, let me mention the very recent huge success of the national football team of Bosnia and Herzegovina that qualified – with great games – for this year’s World Cup in Brazil.

Bosnian Ambassador Zeljko Janjetovic

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