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The National Sports Council does not agree on the new sports financing model / Article

The Ministry of Education and Science (IZM) has prepared amendments to legal acts so that any sports federation recognized in Latvia will receive state budget money from the Council of Sports Federations of Latvia (LSFP) with one contract. The parties involved expressed even before the meeting that the reform was rushed and had not been discussed with the managers of the sports industry.

Several organizations want to manage state finances in the sports sector

The first signs of changing the financing model of high-achieving sports arose already three years ago, following the initiative of the Ministry of the Interior. Until now, the organizations managing sports money were given time to agree on the most desirable model among themselves, but this did not happen. Not seeing any results, the ministry began to insist more actively that from 2023 the money will be shared by one organization and it will be LSFP led by Einar Fogel.

At the meeting of the National Sports Council on Thursday, the ministry was criticized for the fact that the process is going backwards – the money distribution model is accepted first, but only then is thought about how it will work.

Minister of Education and Science Anita Muižniece (“Conservatives”) said that in fact there was a split in the sports sector, because

the two largest organizations – LOK and LSFP – could not agree on the state financial sharing system, and therefore the Ministry of Education and Culture prepared its own offer.

“This is the first step for us to start working on these criteria,” said Muižniece. “I absolutely would not want a format similar to the “Rīdzene” negotiations to be implemented in the sports sector, where first everyone agrees somewhere with everyone, and then the ministry comes with a pre-negotiated decision.”

The Latvian Olympic Committee (LOK) expressed the most active concern about the haste of the new sports financing model.

whose president, Georges Tickmer, was perplexed as to why changes should be made without proper discussions, which will essentially not save public money, but only change its distributor. According to Tikmer, this could affect the preparation of Latvian athletes for the next summer and winter Olympic Games.

The National Sports Council does not find a consensus for changing the sports financing model

On the other hand, LOK General Secretary Kārlis Lejnieks said that by changing the system, administrative expenses will not decrease and athletes will not get more money. Lejnieks questioned whether the capacity and competence of LSFP will be adequate for the full performance of new duties. According to Lejnieks, LOK are specialists with relevant knowledge in the high-achieving sports industry, therefore everyone should be responsible for the section where they have the most relevant competence.

Diāna Zaļupe, head of the Board of Directors of Latvian Sports Educational Institutions, agreed with LOK President Tikmer, stressing that a similar example, as currently in the sports sector, also exists in culture. Zaļupei does not think that the option of one partner is the best solution for the sports industry, although it might be attractive to the ministry.

The executive director of the Latvian Team Sports Games Association Kaspars Gorkšs emphasized that

it is still not clear how, according to the new principles, it will be evaluated to whom to provide funding.

The representatives of sports organizations also emphasized that it is necessary to continue providing the annual targeted donation of “Latvijas valsts mežu” for the development of sports.

Discussions about the new sports funding model will continue behind the scenes, as there will be no more meetings of the National Sports Council during the mandate of the current government. The LNSP held its last meeting during the tenure of the current government, but its members agreed that the new sports funding model should be discussed in a different format. The decision now rests with the politicians.

On Thursday, the National Sports Council also decided to allocate more than 123 thousand euros to the Ukrainian basketball team,

so that its players can prepare and participate in the World Cup qualifiers. It was also decided to allocate money from contingency funds to the Latvian Tennis Union and the Latvian Orienteering Federation for organizing international competitions in Latvia. The final decision on the allocation of money will be taken by the Cabinet of Ministers.

LNSP and its chairman are approved by the government. According to the regulations of the LNSP, the council consists of the ministers of defense, finance, internal affairs, education and science, welfare and health, the highest state official responsible for sports determined by the minister of education and science, the president of the LOK, the president of the LSFP, the head of the Union of Local Governments, the Union of Sports Veterans and the People’s Sports presidents of the association, as well as the rector of the Latvian Sports Pedagogy Academy and the president of the University Sports Union.

Other operational goals of the National Sports Council include participation in the development of national sports policy and preparation of proposals for distribution of state funding in the field of sports.

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