In the continuing story of tension between superstar Hungarian swimmer, Katinka Hosszu, and the Hungarian Swimming Federation, the latter posted a statement concerning the situation on its Facebook page earlier today.
The post essentially chides Hosszu for having left for the Austin Pro Swim Series prior to obtaining permission from the Federation. In the statement, seen in its entirety below, the Federation requested a phone call from Hosszu asking for such permission, saying that “the Hungarian Swimming Federation decided that, even though she should have asked for permission to compete before she accepted the invitation from the Austin organizers, in order to sort out the current situation peacefully, they will grant permission, if Katinka personally asks this from the National Coach while she is in Austin.”
The Hosszu camp says that they don’t have any comment at this time.
The relationship between Hosszu and the Hungarian Swimming Federation has been growing more hostile in recent months. Hosszu first called a press conference in December 2015 to criticize the Hungarian swimming federation for failing to provide enough resources to its swimmers. To the press, Hosszu expressed that “while the Hungarian Swimming Federation expects world-class performances, the support they provide is far from world-class level.”
We then reported within the last week how Hosszu tore up a contract with the swimming federation, one valued at approximately HUF 12 million (~$41,000), for promoting the 2017 World Aquatics Championships in Budapest. The act was a symbolic protest of sorts, with Hosszu claiming she does not need the money and would rather see the funds directed towards Hungarian swimmers in establishing what she deems “appropriate conditions.”
The contentious situation further escalated when Hungarian National Team Head Coach, Laszlo Kiss then initially resigned from his post, only to return to his position a few days later after receiving a call from the Hungarian Prime Minister.
Statement from the Hungarian Swimming Federation, as translated by Eszter Domokos:
Though the Hungarian Sportsperson of the Year Award dinner will be organized in the National Theatre on Thursday, the 14th of January, Katinka Hosszu has traveled to Austin to compete at the second stop of the Arena Pro Race series (with prize money) from Friday to Sunday, January 15-17th.
Laszlo Kiss, Hungarian National Coach has been only informed from her Facebook page on Monday that the swimmer and her coach are already in Austin. Neither the Hungarian Federation nor the national coach have been informed about the length of the stay; if they will travel back to Hungary after completion of the meet, or if they will continue preparation abroad.
After Katinka had already traveled to the U.S. on Sunday, her request to compete has only arrived to the Federation on Monday. The Federation finds itself into a high-pressure situation; if they give her permission to compete, they prove that, in Hungary, an extraordinarily successful athlete can do anything she/he wants. If they do not give permission – if the Arena organizers demand such thing – then the Hungarian Federation can, despite its best intentions, harm the most successful Hungarian swimmer, as well as the organizers of the competition.
Obviously, she is part of the program and the organizers count on her participation and may have even bought her accommodation and flights. Taking all this into consideration, the Hungarian Swimming Federation decided that, even though she should have asked for permission to compete before she accepted the invitation from the Austin organizers, in order to sort out the current situation peacefully, they will grant permission, if Katinka personally asks this from the National Coach while she is in Austin. A few minutes phone call cannot influence her performance in a negative way and this way she can also express her intention to finalize the discussion.
Based on the above, the Hungarian Swimming Federation is particularly pleased and grateful to accept the announcement from Zsolt Borkai, the President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, that she is ready to start a discussion between Katinka and the Federation. The Federation hopes that at least the Hungarian Olympic Committee will be informed on when she will be back in Hungary.
The Hungarian Swimming Federation, in accordance with the concepts defined by the IOC Charter, wants to follow the objectives of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, which encourages fair play and mutual respect.