Imitation instead of reforms: Why Ukraine misses opportunities in sport

Author : Oleksandr Koshovyi

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukraine’s Ministry of Sport fully demonstrates the crisis of the genre of the post-communist "sports" department
22:09, 27 April 2017

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In the era of change, the projects of successful transformations are important, because they would exemplify that positive transformations are possible. As well as remarkable examples of missed opportunities.

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Ukrainian sport is now managed by the ministry, which has all the possibilities for effective actions, but misses these opportunities without making any changes in the sphere. The complexities of its development without changes in the market economy are obvious. And most importantly, the ministry does not implement effective legislative changes to attract private investment in the sports industry.

That is why it happens.

First. Imitation of reforms.

Reforms are carried out legislatively. In any case, in a law-based state. During the entire period of the current Minister’s (Zhdanov) cadence, not a single system-oriented or market-oriented draft with a specific social protection mechanisms aimed at reforming the sports sphere in Ukraine has been created.

Second. Billboards and reports instead of creating conditions.

If you did not shoot the event and did not post the photo (or better video) on the Internet, people believe that your event did not take place at all.

The website of the ministry simply bursts out from all sorts of events, with the participation of the minister (cutting the ribbons, opening something, saying parting words, discussing, holding meetings, handing medals and prizes, etc.).

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During the epic leadership of the department, the minister's initiatives also were surprising by the breadth of views and the scale of thinking. I am talking about hanging billboards and in such a simple way to promote sports. To impose "taxes" on athletes changing citizenship, and to fill the budget in such a way. The other extreme is to free the patrons from taxes by granting them tax breaks. This practice in Europe, to put it mildly, has long been out of a trend as it allows to hide from paying taxes.

Third. Conflict of interest.

Probably, this is a totally paradoxical situation, when the current high-ranking officials are the beneficiaries of the funds allocated to the organizations headed by them. Ministry of Sport uses this system. First Deputy Minister Gotsul is simultaneously the head of the federation of track and field athletics - the biggest beneficiary of the financial support from the Ministry of Sport. It is about tens of millions of hryvnias! And of course law enforcers, especially NABU, see no corruption in this scheme.

Fourth. The fight against doping is completely failed.

Organizational and informative parts of the campaign are failed. Number of facts of disqualification and deprivation of medals become more and more frequent among Ukrainian athletes.

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Fifth. Absence of criteria.

Absence of measurable rates of success.

The autonomy of sports communities is a system-forming principle of the Olympic movement. It means independence in sphere of management, creation of rules, conducting competitions.

The Ministry of Sport, under the slogan of the autonomy of sports federations, managed to establish and permanently conduct the so-called "state experiment" among some sports federations, perhaps with good intentions, giving them not at all the rights of autonomy, but simply transferring millions of budget funds to management. The main record holder who is owning millions of hryvnias, by the way, is the federation of track and field athletics.

So what are the criteria for the success of this "experiment"? In terms of current difficult times, where do these state's millions go?

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And when someone asks about the experiment conducted by the Ministry of Sport, the minister would proudly answer that he raised the level, improved the quality, and increased the responsibility!


The critical situation could have changed if the Ministry of Sport did not deal only with the distribution of financial flows and the production of thousands of pages of documents that nobody reads. It should conduct real changes in the sphere of sports.

The targeted financing system combined with support of socially important directions would help to fully launch the sports services market, which means attracting private investments to the sport on a legal basis.

In the sports sphere of higher achievements, the change in the rules would ensure the independence and formation of sports federations not as subsidized entities, but as market structures capable of not only spending the money, but also earning it.

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It is absolutely clear that the Ministry of Sport (in the form in which it exists today) is not capable of any changes in the organization of sports. It is just cynically covering with objectively “more significant problems” (rampant corruption, ATO operations, political crisis), and it openly parasitizes on the body of Ukrainian society. Ministry of Sport fully demonstrates the crisis of the genre of the post-communist "sports" department.

On the other hand, this crisis incites to find a way out of a situation in which changes are critically needed. In order to carry out reforms in the sports industry, it is necessary to create an absolutely technical structure (with no connection with the Ministry of Sport) with functions that ensure the development of criteria, monitoring the distribution and use of financial resources channeled to sports. As well as consulting and technical support for federations.

The department, which calls itself the Ministry of Sport, has every chance to be not only liquidated, but also to sink into oblivion.

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