Illustration photo – Press conference of the Czech Sports Union (ČUS) on the impact of the energy crisis on the sports environment, September 20, 2022, Prague. From the right, the chairman of ČUS Miroslav Jansta, the mayor of the Czech village of Sokolská Hana Moučková.
Nymburk – Representatives of the Czech Sports Union (ČUS) want to convince top politicians to establish a separate sports ministry as soon as possible. At today's general meeting in Nymburk, they also sharply objected to a possible reduction in support for sports for 2024 to 5.2 billion crowns, which is what the draft of the next budget envisages. However, according to the chairman of the National Sports Agency (NSA), Ondřej Šebek, the reduction in funding for the agency is only a proposal by officials and does not have the support of top politicians led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Minister of Finance Zbyňek Stanjura.
“Why should a Ministry of Sports be established? Rather, the question is why not, when sport is in such a situation where the state is obviously not fulfilling its obligations. We are convinced that we lack a representative of the state administration in the field of sports sitting in the government,” said the chairman of the ČUS Miroslav Jansta and pointed to the example of Poland and Hungary, where sport has its own minister. “And sport has grown exponentially there in the last twenty or thirty years. By building new infrastructure, strengthening the funding of unions, clubs, but above all in schools. In our country, even the Ministry of Education is not fulfilling its duty to support sports in schools. That is why we are convinced that it should be a clear head of Czech sports who should tell the public how it will be implemented, and if not, why,” Jansta pointed out.
According to Jansta, the date when the Ministry of Sports could be established is 2025. After the next elections to the Chamber of Deputies. “That's why it's time for us to start a discussion within the sports environment and, of course, with political parties and movements, to clarify our position and explain why we want it,” said the head of the ČUS. They are trying to negotiate with politicians about the creation of the ministry in the long term. “And with the exception of one strict person, everyone admits that it would be good. Now it's just a matter of political courage to do it and enforce it. Three ministries were also created last year,” he pointed out.
Šebek would also consider the creation of the Ministry of Sports to be a positive step. “It would be an office that puts sport first. At the same time, I perceive that some big projects are decided on by the government, and sport does not have a representative there, unlike science and culture, which are similar matters and also have their own importance for society. ” stated Šebek.
But Prime Minister Fiala is not in favor of the idea of creating a Ministry of Sports. “I don't see any reason why we should now think about establishing a Ministry of Sports. We have recently established the National Sports Agency and our government has evaluated some of the problems surrounding the operation of the agency. We have changed the leadership and amended the law, which is important. There is a functioning National Sports Agency agency and we should wait to see how the changes we made prove themselves,” Fiala told reporters in Berouna on Tuesday. “I think that the NSA is a sufficient systemic or institutional delineation for the sport to be well supported,” he noted.
As expected, the main topics of the general assembly included the economy and the draft state budget for 2024, according to which sports financed through the NSA should decrease by 25 percent compared to last year. So by 1.7 billion crowns.
“We were informed that it is a proposal by officials that does not have the support of politicians,” Šebek said in a speech to the delegates, emphasizing that he would continue negotiations in the summer months to prevent such a move. “The prospects that are presented in the intention of the budget for next year are tragic for sport. The General Assembly has also taken a position on this. I believe that we still have three months of negotiations to argue that sport is important for our society. gives more to society than it takes, either economically or with added value in increasing people's physical fitness,” Šebek told journalists. “Personally, I would like us to receive at least two billion more. I hope that, including investment money, it will be nine billion next year,” Jansta wished.
ČUS in Nymburk pointed to the “Sport 2025” concept, which was approved by the government in June 2016. Based on it, support for sports was to be gradually increased and, for example, this year it was to amount to 19 billion crowns. In fact, it amounts to 6.9 billion crowns. In two years, according to the concept, it should be at the level of one percent of GDP.
“I tentatively proposed this at one meeting, but I was pushed back because only the army has this reservation,” Šebek admitted. For next year, he would consider it a success if this year's amount was not reduced. “Increasing is not something that would be realistic. I believe that if the economy worked the way it should and was progressive, that would be the topic,” Šebek said.