State support for sports
President discusses key measures of state support for sports organisations
By Kirill Dovlatov
In 2011, the effectiveness of state support for sports came under scrutiny, with a new formula being designed to encourage sports organisations to become more independent. State funding is now reliant on the success of particular teams and athletes. However, there is still ‘room for improvement’, as the President notes.
Mr. Lukashenko emphasises, “You won’t be able to make the overall picture look pretty using only some of those operating successfully and efficiently. I have the preliminary results of nine team club inspections, provided by the Committee of State Control, and, frankly, they aren’t impressive.”
Regarding salaries, Mr. Lukashenko agrees that success deserves to be rewarded and that financial incentives can be effective but that wages should be within reasonable limits. It’s generally accepted that it costs money to ensure success in professional sports but some also have false ideas about what can be achieved through money alone. Success is, naturally, reliant on great effort. In recent years, the state has provided tremendous support to sport, building dozens of arenas and ice rinks, which meet world standards. Leading athletes and world stars now come to train at Minsk-Arena and at Staiki.
Nevertheless, our results in some areas are embarrassingly poor. The President notes, in particular, that football and hockey, which receive great state support, have failed to live up to expectations. He asserts, “Footballers and hockey players are the most highly paid but what results have we seen? None! From now on, sponsorship of sports clubs and organisations by public enterprises must equal state support. There’s no more to be said.”
Teams will need to rely on generating their own funds or attracting investments rather than being allocated state funds; there are no bottomless pockets. Mr. Lukashenko emphasises, “Salaries shouldn’t be too low or too high. We need to create a competitive environment in sport, reviewing financing — including presidential scholarships. In order to receive such funds, athletes need to keep proving themselves.”