Swiss government pledges 500 million francs for coronavirus-hit sporting organisations

Swiss government pledges 500 million francs for coronavirus-hit sporting organisations
Supporters of the Swiss football club BSC Young Boys celebrate. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
The Swiss government announced half a billion francs in relief for the country’s professional and amateur sporting organisations, with special steps taken to ensure the money won’t end up in the hands of superstar professional athletes.

This week, tens of thousands of amateur athletes across Switzerland were again allowed into gyms and to exercise outside in small groups. 

The legacy of the coronavirus lockdown remains however, with professional and amateur sports clubs across the country hit hard. 

READ: How Switzerland's gyms and training facilities reopened on May 11th after coronavirus lockdown 

To address this, the Federal Council on Wednesday made CHF500 million available

The funds are split into two separate pots: CHF350 of loans and CHF150 of grant funding to address losses. 

The loans are to be interest-free until 2023 and made available to professional sporting organisations playing football and ice hockey. 

The remaining grant funding is primarily targeted at amateur clubs which do not turn a profit. 

In announcing the funding, Federal Councilor Viola Amherd said “professional sport has the possibility of repaying the funding. Clubs are public companies that try to make a profit. It is not at all comparable to amateur sport”. 

The money will not only be made available to Swiss sporting competitions. More than 60 international federations are based in Switzerland.

Of these, other than the well-financed UEFA, FIFA and the IOC, those with comparatively less resources will be able to apply. 

‘The wage bill must not increase’

Matthias Remund, Director of the Federal Office of Sport, said careful measures had been woven into the arrangement to make sure the money loaned to professional clubs didn’t go straight towards inflated player wages, while wage bills on the whole must be reduced in the longer term. 

In a press conference making the announcement, Redmund responded to comments from the public that state money should not go towards overcompensated professional athletes at the higher end of the wage spectrum. 

“We have defined collateral for the loans. Thirty percent of the revenue from media broadcasts and marketing rights must be secured,” he said. 

“For clubs applying for a loan, the wage bill must not increase, but must be reduced by 20 percent within three years.

“It was clear to us that we do not want to and cannot pay excessive wages with taxpayers' money”

 


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