Ministers, however, seem set to pull the rug from underneath the ČOV’s feet by scrapping the gambling companies’ option to divert a quarter of their lottery tax to sports. The move would leave youth sport facing an annual shortfall of hundreds of millions of crowns.
“The lottery operators’ money has been an extremely important source of funding for sport. The funding format has for years been used with much success in numerous other countries. Sports unions and clubs would be hardest hit [by its withdrawal] as they regularly use lottery funds to, among other things, hire coaches for young athletes,” ČOV chairman Jiří Kejval told E15 daily.
The committee has one hope left, namely a legislative amendment tabled by MP Jan Hamáček (Social Democrat). It would preserve the option of diverting funds from the taxman.
The government claims it is preparing a compensatory measure. The relevant budget section under the education, youth and sports ministry has been beefed up with an extra CZK 800m for this year. But the ČOV is not impressed. “Seeing funds replaced with promises is unacceptable. We’ve suffered often enough in the past as a result and the current desperate underfunding of the
nation’s sport is stark proof of that,” Kejval added.