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Minister to scrap, replace failing sports subsidy system

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Prague, May 9 (CTK) – Czech Education, Youth and Sports Minister Katerina Valachova will scrap the ministry’s programme of subsidising sport organisations and associations and she will prepare a new one, she told journalists today, reacting to a scandal over the programme’s suspected misuse.

The scandal involves officials from the ministry, the Prague City Hall and people linked to sport groups including the Czech Football Association (FACR) and its chairman Miroslav Pelta.

Valachova (Social Democrats, CSSD), who announced her decision to resign over the affair later today, said she has suspended the distribution of the ministry subsidies to sport organisations and associations.

The ministry has not distributed any subsidies this year as yet, she said.

“I have decided to repeat the whole procedure of assessing [the applications]… We will act as fast as possible,” Valachova said.

The programme involves a total of one billion crowns to be distributed in 2017-2018, she said.

Valachova said the FACR will have a big problem gaining state subsidies, because it faces criminal accusations as a legal entity.

She said she is seeking ways to secure the financing of football clubs within the FACR.

Valachova ordered several extraordinary checks to be carried out at the ministry in the past months, and also certain measures to be taken in its sports department.

“E-mail communication of the sports department employees was screened, based on which three suspicious people were identified. Besides, I tackled two suspected conflict of interest cases,” Valachova said.

She said last week’s police raid at the ministry interfered with the ongoing internal check she had initiated.

Out of the ministry’s three sport subsidising programmes, the suspension concerns only the programme for sport organisations and associations.

It does not apply to a one-billion-crown programme of subsidising the sport activities of children and youth. The financial sum will be released in the days to come.

The third sport subsidy programme, designated for disabled athletes and public sport activities, will undergo a softer, framework check, Valachova said.

($1=24.433 crowns)

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