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Puskás Funeral to Cost 180 Million


INDEX / Hungarian News Service
4 December 2006, 9:18

Pál Schmitt, president of the tribute committee assembled for Ferenc Puskás's funeral, denied reports that the funeral for Ferenc Puskás, who passed away on 17 November, would cost half a billion forints. Former world greats and current football leaders are expected at the ceremony on Saturday.

"We have organised in the most economical way a farewell that is still worthy of our nation's dearly departed, something that contributes to the nation image, just as his entire life's work did," said Pál Schmitt, President of the Ferenc Puskás Tribute Committee, in reference to the farewell ceremony for the legendary footballer, who passed away on 17 November.

Half a Billion Forint Figure Made-up

"There has never been a word about half a billion forints. The total expense, in which I included everything and which we have submitted to the government, was altogether a sum of 180 million forints. Out of that, the cost of the actual ceremony - that is, the nation's farewell - is as of now 85 million forints. That is far from the sum reported in the press. I intended to handle the farewell ceremony discretely and very economically - and that is how I'm going to do it. I regret that the material considerations have taken such priority. We are awaiting an answer from the government on Monday how much of the cost they would like take on. The Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB) and the Hungarian Football Association (MLSZ) will also contribute according to their abilities," the front man for the Hungarian Olympic Committee announced to the Hungarian News Service (MTI)

Family Would Have Cremated

In reference to the rising costs, Schmitt mentioned as examples the city costs, police costs, and military, further mentioning the participation of the Roman Catholic Church and Ferenc Puskás Stadium, or in particular the gun carriage that would transport the coffin. At the same time, he added, many donations had arrived.

According to the original conception, the former outstanding player for Budapest Honvéd and Real Madrid would have been cremated; however, this is to be followed by a final burial.

"I personally took a look at the urn repository that the family had already purchased in the crypt of Saint Stephen's Basilica, but I was not satisfied with it, because I believe that Puskás's eternal resting place will be a national, even international place of pilgrimage. We managed to get a place to inter a coffin from the church. It's in more worthy, dignified surroundings, and it will fulfil its function as the tomb of Puskás after the burial."

Puskás Stadium Will Again Be Packed

On 7 December, a Thursday, Ferenc Puskás will be laid out in Saint Stephen's Basilica, and that day all visitors may pay their respects between ten in the morning and eight at night. On Saturday, 9 December, the gates of Puskás Stadium will open at two in the afternoon; the nation's farewell is to begin at 4 p.m. Guests from abroad will also attend. In the words of the tribute committee's president, "I believe we will pack the stadium, just like Puskás packed it in his time."

"A celebration will take place which will be memorable for everyone who comes out. The nation's farewell will be very spectacular and beautiful. Everyone is asked to bring a candle. Everyone present will receive a remembrance card. A delegation of five former players from Real Madrid - Gento and Kopa among them - will attend the ceremony in the stadium."

Four to Speak in the Stadium

In Puskás Stadium, Ramon Calderon, President of Real Madrid, and Pál Schmitt, Chairman of the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB), as well as one-time teammate Jenő Buzánsky will deliver speeches. György Szepesi, representing the Hungarian Football Association, will also play a role.

The coffin will be transported by gun carriage at around 5 p.m. The military salute in Heroes' Square is scheduled for 6 p.m. "Indeed," noted Pál Schmitt, "Ferenc Puskás was promoted posthumously to brigadier general." After the military honours, which will last about 15 minutes, the procession will make its way to the basilica. Roughly at 7 p.m., the Roman Catholic ceremony will begin. László Kiss-Rigó, bishop of Szegd-Csanád County and a player on the Catholic Eleven Best, will officiate.

Presidents' Farewell in the Basilica

Addresses will also be given in the basilica. At that time, László Sólyom, President of the Republic, as well as a government representative, and further, in the name of the International Olympic Committee, Honorary President Juan Antonio Samaranch will bid their farewells. At the same time, a joint representative for the International and the European Football Associations will speak, either FIFA President Joseph Blatter or Golden Ball-winner Michel Platini. István Kisteleki, President of the Hungarian Football Association, will also say goodbye to the legendary footballer at the evening mass.
"President Samaranch knew Puskás very well. I would say they were friends," expressed Pál Schmitt, at the same time remarking that Jacques Rogge, current NOB President and a member of the tribute committee as well, would be present at the Asian Games at the time of the farewell.

Only the Family to Accompany Him to the Final Resting Place

"The basilica can hold around eight hundred, maximum one thousand. Strict attention must be paid to diplomatic and government protocol, as well as sports hierarchy. We have invited the diplomatic institutions, particularly from those countries where Puskás lived. We would like to serve everyone and seat each person in an appropriate place. We will try to have the entire ceremony projected on a screen for those remaining outside," continued Pál Schmitt.

According to the plan, after the mass, somewhat after 8 p.m., only the family will accompany Ferenc Puskás on his final journey into the crypt.

A Number of Greats to Attend the Ceremony

Besides the delegation from Real Madrid, which must travel home after the stadium ceremony, a significant delegation is to arrive from Greece as well. That group will include Puskás's former players and former Panathinaikosz footballers, whom he coached to the 1971 European Championship Cup. At least ten to twelve football association presidents will come to Budapest, as well as several executive members of the International (FIFA) and European (UEFA) Football Associations. As far as politicians from abroad, there are no specifics so far. It is still under consideration. Among the great footballers, however, besides Gento and Kopa, Bobby Charlton and Franz Beckenbauer are to attend. In the stadium, all of the leading Hungarian footballers will say goodbye to Puskás together. The Hungarian Football Association (MLSZ) and the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB) will also hold an exclusive ceremonial dinner in honour of the high-ranking foreign guests.


Source: Index

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