The meeting participants discussed the development of top-level sport, legal regulation of professional sport, and activities of professional sports organisations.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
In 2014, our Council set mass sport development goals and identified priorities of the new Federal Programme for the construction of sports facilities.
Today’s agenda includes top-level sport, including the legal regulation of professional sports. We approached this topic and hovered around it on numerous occasions, so let us consider it in detail today.
A very important issue is the creation of conditions for the activities of professional sports organisations.
I would like to begin by saying that the purposeful and systematic approach to top-level sport adopted by the state in the past years is bringing positive results.
Recall Russia’s victories at the Universiade in Kazan, at the World Track and Field Championship in Moscow, at the Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games. This means that the overall goals set by the Strategy for this area are being met.
Here I would like to give credit to the Fund for the Support of Russian Olympians, which turns 10 this year. During these years, it has implemented 57 programmes worth a total 8 billion rubles, aimed primarily at supporting promising athletes. A majority of them became Olympics champions and prize winners. This is a good, even excellent result that we need to expand on.
In this connection, I would like to name all those who made contributions to the Fund and support sport. Please forgive me if I fail to mention everyone: Abramov, Abramovich, Alekperov, Aven, Bogdanov, Vekselberg, Deripaska, Yevtushenkov, Lisin, Potanin, Usmanov and Bokarev.
I would like to note that 87 percent of those receiving grants became champions and prize winners.
Various state support measures are also being implemented, including Presidential grants. I believe we should think of ways to make such mechanisms more effective and of additional measures we could put forth. I would like to ask the Sports Ministry to work on this.
Within the framework of this meeting I would also like to hear about preparations for the Games in Rio de Janeiro that come in less than a year, and about our team’s readiness for the first European Games in Baku.
The Games will feature 31 competitions, 11 of which will serve as qualification trials for the Olympics and Paralympics in Brazil. Our athletes should already be well prepared.
I would also like to hear about the results of the first post-Olympic season in winter sports. We still have plenty of time before the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, another three years. But time flies, and this is not really that much.
Football deserves a separate discussion, not only in connection with the 2018 World Cup, the construction of the infrastructure and our national team’s readiness. Primarily I am referring now to the overall development of football and its development in the Russian regions. I find it reasonable to dedicate the next meeting of our Council to this issue.
Sports infrastructure is also a very important topic. Let me remind you that at the end of 2012 we set the task of providing federal training centres in all Olympic and Paralympic sports by June 2015. I would like to hear a progress report today.
We also have to discuss the development of sport-related research base. Let me remind you that 3 years ago, the Sports Ministry set up a Federal Research Centre to join the efforts of the best experts in this area to conduct mass-scale research.
Modern sport is not only a competition of athletes, it is also a tough competition of advanced technologies used for the recovery and rehabilitation of athletes and their medical support. We should undoubtedly work on this consistently and closely, strictly differentiating between what is allowed and what is not, thereby promoting the purity of sport and protecting athletes’ lives and health.
Here I have to note that cases of Russian athletes showing positive results in dope tests have become more frequent. On the one hand, this is evidence of the greater efficiency of our anti-dope services, but, apart from that, it also shows the need for improving preventive efforts in this area and envisaging measures that would make the use of dope in sports unjustified morally and materially, and also detrimental to career and reputation.
As for the actual medical support for our athletes, here the Federal Medical-Biological Agency of Russia has made significant progress. However, there are areas that require additional efforts and decisions. Thus, we need to clarify the procedure for funding this work from the federal budget, including primary and specialised medical and sanitary measures and rehabilitation. There are certain peculiarities here that apply to compulsory medical insurance. This is also something we need to consider.
Colleagues, now over to so-called professional sports. Its place and role in society needs to be very competently and properly established.
There are many examples in the world when certain sports, like boxing, football, basketball, tennis and some others develop successfully as professional sports. They not only popularise sports and a healthy lifestyle, but also serve as a powerful social lift, are successful profitable industries (through advertising and other sources) and provide jobs for a significant number of people.
I believe that proper management and administration would also make it possible for Russian professional sports to use commercial, market funding. Meanwhile budget funds should be allocated primarily for the development of mass sport, rather than for buying foreign sports stars for the sake of prestige at non-transparent and often ungrounded prices, as it unfortunately continues to happen. I would like to bring this to the attention of CEOs of government-sponsored companies too. The development of national sport should be our main priority. This is our true social responsibility.
The creation of an effective model for professional sports will also require precise legal and regulatory framework. This applies, first of all, to labour relations, including with foreign sports experts. Instructions to set things straight in this area were issued back in April of last year. I expect to hear a progress report on this today.
Secondly, we need to fix the legal status of the subjects of professional sports, including professional clubs and leagues, and to establish procedures for their creation, cooperation and financial relations with both national federations and the state, including in terms of holding national championships.
Among the important preconditions for the development of professional sports are such things as launching a national system of dispute resolution in sports, ensuring proper pensions for athletes, expanding their opportunities to receive additional training or to retrain after the termination of their sports career. I would like to touch upon these issues today as well.
We also need to create conditions for increasing funding from non-budgetary sources and to use formats that have proven efficient in both national and world practice. I am referring here to lotteries and sale of television broadcasting rights, among other things.
I would like to add here that according to expert assessments, sports television programmes are unfortunately losing ground, while shows featuring sports stars are a powerful resource for promoting a healthy lifestyle, for creating role models for young people and families. Recall the Sochi Olympics, after which we witnessed a huge increase in the number of people taking interest in sports.
I find it reasonable to consider the possibility of setting up an accessible sports TV channel. We have discussed this already, so today I would like to hear well-formulated specific proposals.
Let us now begin our work.
Vladimir Putin: Let us conclude. I believe the topic is extremely important and there is no need to speak of its significance. In the course of preparations for this discussion and during this meeting, we have drafted a very extensive list of instructions that covers practically all the subjects we touched upon today.
This includes the draft laws you mentioned, information support and the so-called legionnaires, the foreign experts. Obviously, we will have to take another look at it all and many things need to be regulated.
Vladimir Putin: We need to set some priorities. It looks as though the existing system of top-level sport’s organisation and information support is still imperfect and what we are discussing today is of great importance.
The same goes for attracting foreign experts and so-called legionnaires. Do we need them or not? Of course, we do. Sports in Russia should not develop in isolation. We also need experts, coaches, doctors and athletes because Russian fans want to see top rank athletes on our sports grounds. Besides, they should maintain Russian sports at the proper level, Russia should not isolate itself.
However, overwhelming participation of foreign experts and legionnaires in our sports and our clubs does not help develop Russian sport, but rather slows it down and creates problems in forming national teams. This is the case when the vanity fair run by our companies, specifically those with public ownership, is completely out of place.
It is easier, and in some cases cheaper to buy than to develop youth sport, have our own children’s and youth teams at the big clubs and wait for results for years. However, if we want to retain our level and have development prospects for the future, there is no other way than to develop our own base. There is nothing here that would make sport different from any other activity, including economic activity.
Whether we want to have high technology production or a knowledge-intensive industry we need to develop it from scratch, starting with fundamental research. And here we need to develop sport for children and young people, bring it to the level of top-level sport, being at the same time an integral part of the world’s sport movement.
We should not look for easy ways when we have the financial resources, but invest them for the long term into sport for children and young people. When all of this forms the right combination, then we will have a stable base for our own development and we will have good results. Then our fans will be happy and we will not have to look for a good athlete at the very last minute and convince him to accept Russian citizenship. This is not bad in certain situations, but this is not the way to cardinally resolve all the issues facing Russian sport in the long run.
I very much hope that the list of instructions resulting from the joint work of all those present here will be of help in resolving all the issues we have been discussing.