The new sports agency is born
The decree of 20 April 2019 officially registered the birth of the national sports agency. The baptism took place on 24 April at the Stade de France in the presence of the entire family, i.e. the 45 members of the General Meeting.
The current sports model in France is based on a dualistic structure involving almost exclusively, on the one hand, the Sports Ministry and, on the other, the sports community composed of federations operating under the supervision of the Sports Ministry, which regularly gives rise to conflicts of power.
The new sports agency aims to wipe some of the dust off of this sports model and to institute a more effective governance.
In addition to the letter of the decree, we will comment below on the spirit of this new governance structure.
The letter of the decree: According to the decree the agency, its purpose is “to associate the respective representatives of the sports community and of the local authorities, as well as the economic actors, for the purpose of defining and attaining common objectives regarding the development of the practice of sports in France, including of high level and high performance, particularly in view of the 2024 Olympic and Para-Olympic games.”
Thus, to give substance to this new shared governance structure, its members come not only from the sports community but also from the business world and from the local government sphere. It should be noted, for example, that the agency’s Board members include the Union Sport et Cycle, from the business world, and Andes, from the local government sphere, both of which have cooperative relationships with Fidal.
The spirit of the reform: Some fear that this reform could lead to the elimination of the Sports Ministry.
This concern can be fueled by several elements: the new agency will be responsible for managing the agreements on objectives, which will ensure the functioning of the sports federations via subsidy grants. The Government is also going to transfer to the federations the management of 1,600 technical sports advisors, raising serious concerns on their part about their future and status. The Sports Minister, facing discontent from these technical sports advisors, has tried to reassure them about their job security but is expected to appoint a mediator to resolve these difficulties.
Other queries have been raised by the governance body, prompting a qualified opinion by the Conseil d’État (Council of State) regarding the draft founding decree. Indeed, the Government is currently the sole contributor, which is not at all consistent with the new agency’s status as a public interest group. One of the reasons for creating the agency is to be able to provide the sports world with other sources of financing. And much is expected from private businesses and economic actors. Will they play along? In short, the game has only just begun.