Spanish sports federations facing 34 percent subsidy cuts

MADRID Mon Oct 8, 2012 7:44pm BST

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MADRID (Reuters) - State funding for Spain's sports federations will be slashed by more than a third next year to 31 million euros ($40.20 million), secretary of state for sport Miguel Cardenal told parliament on Monday.

It was the first time Cardenal has put an exact figure on the size of the subsidy cuts, part of a sweeping austerity package the government is implementing in response to the economic crisis.

Federations will receive 16 million euros less than this year, a drop of 34 percent, Cardenal said, meaning the level of funding will have plummeted from 82 million euros in 2009.

The cuts are expected to hit smaller federations who find it tough to attract corporate sponsors especially hard.

Cardenal has admitted that performance will be affected over the longer term as athletes are unable to afford to travel to international competitions outside Spain or buy suitable equipment.

Spain's high-performance training centres (CARs), which are designed to groom elite athletes, will have their budget cut by 28 percent, he told lawmakers.

The money set aside for CARs for 2013 would serve to "guarantee existing installations while ruling out the construction of any new ones", he added.

Relatively wealthy federations such as soccer and basketball, who have a host of corporate sponsors, will not be much affected by the latest measures.

The soccer federation (RFEF), flush with cash thanks to Spain's impressive run of success in recent years, forewent its two most recent subsidies, each of around 3 million euros, which represented only 3 percent of its total budget of just over 100 million euros.

By contrast, public funds accounted for 46 percent of the athletics federation's budget last year and more than 50 percent of the budgets for cycling and swimming.

Spanish track and field athletes have performed particularly poorly in recent years and failed to win a single Olympic medal in Beijing four years ago or in London this year.

Olympic Committee (COE) president Alejandro Blanco warned last week Spanish sport faced a bleak future unless more private sponsors can be tapped to offset the subsidy cuts.

($1 = 0.7711 euros)

(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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