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Dispute between the state and DOSB: confrontation across the board

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Dispute between the state and DOSB: confrontation across the board

Are you at risk of resignation or expulsion again? The relationship between sport and the state appears to be in shambles. The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) sharply terminated its cooperation on Friday when it became aware of the Federal Ministry of the Interior’s (BMI) draft for a sports funding law. The government wants to have it passed by parliament this year. On this basis, the independent top sports agency is to be founded in 2025.

According to the plan, the association would transfer its right to control Olympic and non-Olympic sports and the ministry would transfer its budget for financing top-class sports, currently around 300 million euros per year. Both sides should meet at eye level in the agency, the sport demanded, therefore two supervisory bodies, therefore two managing directors.

There can be no talk of eye level. Sport complains about the federal government’s right of veto in the committees, the state points out that it is the paymaster. Organized sport misses the fixing of a sum or parameter for top-level sport funding; the BMI points to Parliament’s right to determine the budget. The sport becomes deeply suspicious of the suggestion that top-level sport should expand support from business.

Clarified fronts

Does the state want to withdraw from funding elite sports in the long term? The idea of ​​not having the Federal Office of Administration solely deal with the billing of the funding, as was previously the case, but instead entrusting it with processing the funding caused something of an allergic shock. The DOSB predicts even more bureaucracy instead of less. At least the fronts have been clarified.

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The association had already withdrawn from the joint sports development plan project in February. There is a lack of commitment and financing. The plan, which began with the exercise summit at the end of 2022, was intended to create federal responsibility for popular sports and should anchor sport and exercise in social areas such as health, education and integration.

The DOSB rejected the draft bill. This means that two of the four major sports policy projects stipulated by the traffic light government in its coalition agreement have failed. So far, two expulsions and one resignation have marked the most spectacular low points in the relationship between the DOSB and the state.

In April 2018, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer put sports department head Gerhard Böhm into temporary retirement, although he thereby gave the impression that the then DOSB President Alfons Hörmann, his CSU party friend, was making personnel policy in the Interior Ministry. Only a new start in personnel, it was said, could save the relationship between the ministry and sport.

Porcelain kittens

Four years later, after Nancy Faeser had taken office, Böhm’s successor Beate Lohmann suffered the same fate. In the meantime, Hörmann had resigned; his successor Thomas Weikert and his chairman Torsten Burmester had a lot of work to do in Berlin when they took office. That doesn’t seem to have worked.

Germany’s largest lobby organization does not receive enough attention in political Berlin, not even in the SPD-led Interior Ministry, from which Burmester moved to Schröder’s Chancellery at a young age. Both he and Weikert make no secret of their affiliation with the SPD.

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A total of nine working groups have been involved in the sports development plan and elite sports reform in the past two years alone. It will soon be ten years since Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière initiated the reform of elite sport with the demand for a third more medals at the Olympic Games. A decade of workers face failed reforms. Despite the effort and despite party-political networking, the DOSB is now surprised by the draft law. Did he really believe that the right to distribute tax resources could be overridden for him?

The Ministry of the Interior is surprised by the content of the DOSB’s criticism and its severity. In a statement, the house thanked the “trustful and intensive process between the federal government, the states and organized sport,” as if in an incantation. It is said that the independence of the sports agency is already expressed in its legal form as a foundation under public law. In addition, the necessary flexibility has been created with the possibility of multi-year, cross-disciplinary funding.

Suggestions are expected on the subject of de-bureaucratization. However, the ministry writes, there are limits to independence when it comes to the strategic direction of top-class sports funding. This is made by the Board of Trustees, in which the federal government and parliament have the majority with nine seats. Sport dominates the sports advisory board.

Michael Reinsch Published/Updated: Recommendations: 3 Michael Reinsch, Berlin Published/Updated: , Recommendations: 4 Michael Reinsch, Berlin Published/Updated: , Recommendations: 1

Over the weekend, the Home Office sugar-coated its response to the sport’s protest. The press release was supplemented with wording such as that the agency’s decisions should be based on independent and in-house sports expertise.
The balance of power cannot be a surprise for sport after the interventions of the Federal Audit Office and the Bundestag Budget Committee last year. The BMI describes it dryly: “A significant federal influence on the board of trustees is (…) essential because the sports agency only allocates federal funds.”

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