The system of funding top-level sports must be streamlined

Text size: [-A] [+A]

Language: EST | RUS | ENG

Print | Send to friends

TALLINN, 8 February 2012 – In its audit “Activities of the State in Supporting Top-level Sports”, the National Audit Office found that the manner in which the state supports top-level sports is not always transparent and legitimate, the funding system is unreasonably complicated and the state’s goals in supporting top-level sports are unclear. Estonian sportsmen have been successful, but the Estonian sports system as a whole still has a lot of room for improvement.

Looking at results per one resident, we see that the performance of our sportsmen has given Estonia a place among the top countries of the world. However, when we assess the Estonian sports system using international methodology, it does not really stand out among other countries. The level of funding sports may be considered good from the international point of view, but the development of the organisational side of the sports system is no more than average.

The National Audit Office also used a survey to identify the problems of the Estonian sports system, where the respondents included 82 top-level sportsmen, 190 higher category (IV and V) coaches and the heads of 19 sports associations.

Analysing these responses showed that not enough attention is given to finding and developing new talents, guaranteeing a support system for sportsmen during and after their careers, and using the achievements of science in sports. Neither coaches nor sportsmen are well informed about the goings-on in the sports system and they are not involved in making sports policy decisions. There are also serious problems in paying and recognising coaches for their work. Although the sportsmen who have reached the top have a very high opinion of the skills and commitment of their coaches, one-third of higher (IV and V) category coaches do their job without employment contracts and most of them do not have enough time to deal with their most talented charges. Attributing no value to the work done by coaches does not motivate them to stay in Estonia – approximately 10% of the coaches in the sports register no longer work in Estonia.

The audit also indicated that the system of distributing money to youth and top-level sports via the Ministry of Culture, the Cultural Endowment, the Gambling Tax Council and the Estonian Olympic Committee is unreasonably complicated. Distributing grants via several different agencies is not economical or practical. As those who distribute money have no clearly distinguishable roles – they give money to the same target group and for the same activities – then there is no valid reason for using three separate systems.

The Ministry of Culture does not proceed from valid legislation when distributing grants and the Gambling Tax Council does not adhere to the declared priorities. The National Audit Office analysed 14 of the largest projects of the Gambling Tax Council in 2010 and found that 8 of these, which totalled 2.95 million kroons, did not comply with priorities. The Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the Estonian Olympic Committee had set clear bases for the distribution of funds. Specific support decisions need more justification everywhere in order to guarantee the transparency of funding.
Only the Cultural Endowment of Estonia has implemented well-functioning supervision of how the allocated money is used. The Ministry of Culture, the Gambling Tax Council and the Estonian Olympic Committee do not check the use of money systematically. The Ministry has also given grants to applicants who have failed to submit adequate reports on the use of the money.

Tarmo Olgo, Director of Audit of the Performance Audit Department of the National Audit Office, said that the state has not set a clear goal in financing top-level sports, which makes it difficult for the state to evaluate the success of the allocations made to sports. “It is therefore even more important to ensure that procedural rules for the allocation of grants are in place and adhered to,” said Olgo. “The state should not dish out millions of euros without any clear principles and without actually checking how the money is used. The organisation of work in the Ministry of Culture really needs to change.”

In its response to the audit report the Ministry of Culture disagreed with the National Audit Office’s view that the manner in which the state supports sports is not transparent and that the funding system is unreasonably complicated, The Ministry found that finding violations and demanding return of the grants cannot be a goal in itself when the use of sports grants is checked. The Gambling Tax Council found that approved funding priorities are not the only binding starting point in the distribution of grants and that rearranging the funding system for the purpose of improving the administration and inspection of the distribution of grants is unnecessary. The Estonian Olympic Committee and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia generally agreed with the recommendations made by the National Audit Office.

Background information
The National Audit Office’s audit focussed on the activities of the Ministry of Culture, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the Gambling Tax Council (GTC) fin funding sports in 2010. 229 million kroons (14.6 million euros) of state budget funds was used to support sports via these organisations. According to estimates, about one-half of this amount was allocated to top-level sports.

The National Audit Office audited the state-s activities in supporting top-level sports in 2010, but there were no significant changes in the financing of (top-level) sports in 2011. Although more money is given to sports on the whole in developed western countries, the state of public funds in financing sports in Estonia is bigger than in western countries.

The success of the Estonian sports system was evaluated on the basis of the SPLISS (Sport Policy Factors Leading to International Sporting Success) methodology. This methodology was developed by a research team consisting of scientists from universities in Belgium, Holland and the United Kingdom. The methodology is based on the concept of the nine columns of the sports system, i.e. the areas that have an impact on the output of the sports system or success in top competitions. These areas are funding, sports policy, practice of sports by the public, a system for finding and developing talents, a support system for sportsmen during and after their careers, training equipment and infrastructure, education and development of coaches, domestic and international competition opportunities and the use of scientific achievements in sports.

Data were collected in the course of a study from 2003-2007 and the sports systems of Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Norway and Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia separately) were compared at the same time. A research project that compares the sports systems of 17 countries will be carried out from 2011-2012 using the experience gained from earlier research. The National Audit Office was the partner of the research project in Estonia. A survey was used to identify the problems of the Estonian sports system, where the respondents included 82 elite sportsmen (sportsmen participating in the preparation programme for London and Sochi Olympics, promising talents recommended by sports associations, and sportsmen who have retired from elite sports in the last two years), 190 higher category (IV and V) coaches and the heads of 19 sports associations.


Toomas Mattson
Head of Communication Service, National Audit Office
+3726400777
+3725134900
toomas.mattson@riigikontroll.ee

  • Posted: 2/8/2012 12:00 AM
  • Last Update: 11/10/2015 5:39 PM
  • Last Review: 11/10/2015 5:39 PM

The success of the Estonian sports system was evaluated on the basis of the SPLISS methodology.

Corbis/Scanpix Baltics

Additional Materials

Documents

Audio and Video

External links

More News