How much is EUR 2.3 million out of EUR 150,694,000?

Topi Raitanen, who waited calmly for her race in Lahti on Sunday, June 7, shakes her head for a while, but then decides not to burden herself with the math nut before the opening race of the season.

The sports magazine tells Raitanen, one of the best hurdles runners in Europe, that it is a little over one and a half percent, exactly 1,516.

Why, then, would that division be relevant from the perspective of Raitanen and his hundreds of athlete colleagues? Because EUR 2.3 million was the only item in the almost EUR 151 million exercise and sports budget prepared by the Ministry of Education and Culture in 2019, which is paid directly to Finnish athletes, as tax-free athlete grants.

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They were paid to a total of 268 athletes in the amount of EUR 2,500-20,000. For example, the Finnish Sports Ethics Center Suek, which is responsible for supervising sports and athletes, received EUR 1.35 million more.

See the search engine for all support decisions of the Ministry of Education and Culture in 2019.

"Perhaps that direct share of athletes says something about the social appreciation of top sports in Finland," said Raitanen, who ran the top of the world statistics at 3,000 meters a couple of hours after the session.

He has been awarded an Athlete Grant of € 10,000 from the Ministry, which denies that the athlete is of a good European standard, but the top lights of the world are still visible.

All the other millions, nearly 149, were directed somewhere else, although a significant portion of them ended up indirectly in favor of the athletes, but later on.

Funding for Finnish sports is a massive, multi-billion euro entity, which involves Finnish municipalities, private business, consumers and enthusiasts with their parents, as well as the financial resources for sports and sports entered into by the Veikkaus Ministry of Education and Culture.

The sports magazine decided to go deeper into the funding distributed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. It is the most significant single state contribution.

The statistics help to reveal the massiveness of the whole: 1 079 positive decisions were taken and almost 2 000 negative applications. As the list deepens, many questions are asked: »What is the focus of public funding for such activities from sports budgets, and would you notice this? loss of activity by anyone other than the direct beneficiary, ie the paid staff? »

»At many levels, of course, the exercise budget can be considered a rather confusing whole. Various studies have also shown that guidance and monitoring have not been very effective, but that money has in practice always been distributed in the same way. "

This is stated by leading Finnish researchers in the financing of sport and its effectiveness, Jarmo Mäkinen, a specialist researcher at the Research Center for Racing and Top Sports, and Jari Lämsä, an expert in evaluation and monitoring.

A very well-known Finnish person who has been at the heart of Finnish sports funding, trust and operational management for decades gave his own assessments of the story, but anonymously due to the sensitivity of the topic. His review is scattered inside the text in italics:

The curse of ministry-funded activities is that the system rewards quality in the same way as poor performance. On a general level, money is still flowing in absurd amounts into old-fashioned, inefficient organizational activities.

Researcher Lämsä wants to quickly break the myth that athletes really only get a slice of just over one and a half percent of the budget. They will indirectly receive money and resources along several other lines funded by the Ministry. These include the Olympic Committee's Center of Excellence, sports federations, sports academies or sports colleges.

»That share can be calculated in different ways. According to one formula, sport would account for EUR 25 million, according to another, as much as EUR 38 million. But I understand if the athletes find that whole very complex and confusing. ”

When Finland's sports success has collapsed, especially in the Olympic sports, it has been hoped that increasing public funding will be a miracle elixir. Dr. Mäkinen reminds of the realities:

»If we look at the share of state-funded funding, Finland is not really an international mud series, but fully competitive. Failure is due to other things. ”

The Finnish model, in which public support for sports and sports comes from the proceeds of betting activities, is not an international freak, but a rather general model.

»The difference with Sweden, for example, is that the central sports organization RF distributes funding there. We lack such an independent, autonomous sports movement that would share resources and monitor their effectiveness, ”says Mäkinen.

The essential question of sports funding may not be related to the amount of money but to the efficiency of its use.

Such a strong role of the Ministry is a very Finnish special feature. One spoon in the sack is also that the relationship between the current most important player in sport, the Olympic Committee, and the ministry, for example, is still not a merry Christmas after the recovery of state subsidies that caused a bitter burst.

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 Finland is certainly not a series of international mud, but fully competitive.

It is typical in a sports organization that shop stewards want operational power. In the end, the office is headed by some vague check, and the money goes where it hurts.

Of the gigantic sports budget, the media and through it the general public are most interested in modest athlete grants. Lämsä and Mäkinen consider the scholarship model to be effective in themselves, but consider whether it would be worthwhile to reduce the number of scholarship recipients and clearly increase the scholarship amounts.

With the lowest grants when there is little professionalization going on. Researchers also point out that the Finnish criteria for allocating grants are not strict.

In Sweden, Norway or the United Kingdom, only a very small proportion of those who increase their athletes' salaries in Finland would receive any kind of grant.

Of the Nordic countries, Norway (2016) spent € 194 per capita on sports, Sweden 185 and Finland 166. Finland and Sweden have increased their share significantly in the 2010s, when Norway has practically stagnated - and nevertheless grabbed more medals than anything at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. other country winter races never before.

Norway spends about 3.6 public euros per capita per year on top sports, Sweden about 1.5 and Finland about 2.1. Denmark, which has been fantastically successful at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is clearly lagging behind other Nordic countries.

"One difference is that in Sweden and Norway, a large proportion of sports funding has been earmarked directly to the local level, such as sports clubs," says Mäkinen.

"The Finnish system is very cemented," says Lämsä.

»It takes into account top sports and sports, but where does it mention competitive sports? However, it is one part of exercise and a prerequisite for the spearhead of top sports », Mäkinen wonders.

Success in the company becomes an award. The only incentive for sports organization work is that the organization is well run, meetings well prepared, minutes clean and coffee warm. It will take time for operational management using public funds.

The public budget for physical education and sports is compiled practically entirely from Veikkaus' profits, which are recognized as income by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

During the interview, Lämsä and Mäkinen have expressed that the money of 151 million could also be moved in a way that is more beneficial to sports success. In the same breath, the duo also raises the question of how such a large sports budget can be compiled in five years' time, at least from the revenues of the national gaming monopoly. So do many others.

Many things indicate that Veikkaus 'revenue-generating capacity is even collapsing in the short term: the constant pressure on the monopoly system, slot machines closed by the corona pandemic, the returns of which are no longer restoring, Veikkaus' exile and the ever-accelerating debate about gambling disadvantages. The banknote printing of sports and many other perceived useful activities is catching up.

The sport employs a large number of people by preparing meetings, writing minutes and mailing letters. Anything like this should blow up and direct your money to where the sport actually takes place.

Mäkinen strongly advocates that sports appropriations should be quickly decoupled from the umbilical cord of Veikkaus revenues and transferred to the normal state revenue and expenditure allocation process. He writes on the subject e.g. In issue 3/20 of the journal Liikunta & Tiede.

Several critics of the current system believe that exercise and sports are already reaching the budget tables very late, and there is even a promise of a collapse in funding in the next few years. Libera researchers Heikki Pursiainen and Klaus Kultti also made a very critical study on the subject, called Golden Shackles, in April.

In the sports house in Pitäjänmäki, the gang rumbles in their own rooms, no sense of community. When a neighborhood athlete takes a medal of honor on TV, no one raises their head from the terminal. If a potential sports investor were to walk through that house, then hell wouldn’t put a lure there either.

Lämsä and Mäkinen are not so pessimistic, but see that the sports sector has valid arguments to defend its position in a world where Veikkaus' revenue is distributed directly from the state's revenue and expenditure estimates without eartags.

»That world is inevitably approaching. Hardly in the 2030s will an exercise budget be collected from Veikkaus' earmarked profits, ”says the duo.

Some of the bodies supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture in practice exist mainly to receive its support. When, of course, the intention would be to develop one's own activities so that one could break away from public funding.

In Finland, it is often stated that an internationally potential, young athlete does not “dare” to try to reach the top, because the economic future is frightening, studies are stretched, pensions are not accrued and one's own sport may not contain any financial potential.

Jari Lämsä and Jarmo Mäkinen do not see that the financial support given to sport by Finnish society is to blame for such a dropout phenomenon. The same laws are also encountered by young athletes in most comparison countries.

Would the reason be a completely different appreciation, or the lack of it, which Topi Raitanen, an obstacle runner, was already talking about at the beginning of this text?

»When a young person invests in top sports, funding is of course one thing, but an incomparably bigger and more important thing is whether this young person instincts that he or she will receive a societal appreciation for his or her choice. After all, no one becomes a writer to get scholarships, ”Jarmo Mäkinen summarizes.

Pouring money into this silo every year is the dumbest thing you can do.