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Some challenges remain
Communication to the National Assembly’s Committee on Finance,
the General Economy and Budgetary Control
July 2022
Executive Summary
In its 2013 public thematic report entitled,
Sport for All and High Performance Sport:
Reorienting Central Government Action
, the Court called for an adaptation of the Central
Government’s strategy by re
orienting and concentrating its resources around narrower
priorities. It stressed the need for a coordinated framework of action for Central Government
policy and the involvement of the sport movement stakeholders and local governments in its
definition, as this long-standing, recurrent issue has struggled to find a sustainable response.
The April 2019 creation of the National Sports Agency is a new attempt to reform the
governance of sport between the Central Government, the sport movement, local governments
and, now, the business world as well. It conveys the commitments made by the President of
the Republic aimed at giving more autonomy and responsibilities to the sport movement and
follows the City of Paris being awarded the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The present investigation, requested by the National Assembly’s Committee on Finance,
the General Economy and Budgetary Control, is part of the Court’s remit under Article L. 111
3 of the Financial Courts Code, in view of the report that it will submit to Parliament in 2022 on
the preparations for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
While it is possible to take stock of the changes that have taken place since 2019 and
the new policies and practices that have been implemented since the creation of the Agency,
it is not possible to assess their initial results, which can only be evaluated over time.
Nevertheless, an examination of the origin of the reform, and the political, legal and financial
choices that governed it, as well as the conditions under which the Agency was set up, calls
for the Court to issue findings, questions and audit recommendations to enable this ambitious
reform to achieve its goals.
The ambition of a new governance of sport:
a demanding challenge, necessary clarifications
The ambiguities and limits of the public interest grouping
The ambition to establish “
a shared governance with distributed responsibilities
” for sport
policy, based on clear principles of jurisdiction, the project to reinforce the autonomy and
responsibility of the sport movement, to strengthen the role of local governments, and to
redefine the role and organisation of the Central Government, justified the creation of the
Agency in the form of a public interest grouping (GIP). Initially, the regulatory route was chosen,
before giving the new agency the legislative basis that was necessary in view of the missions
entrusted to it and its exclusive funding by the Central Government, in derogation of the rules
governing public interest groupings.
This legal status, chosen to allow voting rights to be shared between all the stakeholders,
has in reality no financial or operational content, since the grouping’s action is based almost
exclusively on the Central Government resources allocated to the Agency. The creation of the
Agency has not, at this stage, led to the pooling of resources or the coordination of public
policies in favour of sport, and the articulation between the public and private sectors is still at
the level of intention. The “
shared governance with distributed responsibilities
”, the goal on
which the National Agency for Sport was created, if it leads to a “
shared governance
” of Central
Court of Accounts,
Sport pour tous et sport de haut niveau: pour une réorientation de l’action de l’État
, public
thematic report, January 2013.
Government appropriations with the other sports policy stakeholders, has not yet led to any
clarification of jurisdictions or distribution of responsibilities between all such stakeholders.
An agreement on goals and means adopted late,
a necessary update
The legal weaknesses that emerged when the Agency was set up reflect the ambiguities
and contradictions of the reform undertaken. The Council of State rightly recalled the need for
the National Sports Agency to include its action in the guidelines set out in a contract of goals
and means signed with the Central Government, which must have the means to fully exercise
its supervision over the Agency.
The agreement on goals and means between the Central Government and the Agency,
signed belatedly in May 2021,
does include indicators relating to the Agency’s missions.
However, the multiplication of goals, which are not prioritised, and the quantitative rather than
qualitative nature of the results indicators cannot, as things stand, ensure a proper evaluation
f the efficiency of the Agency’s action and results. Three years after the creation of the
Agency, this agreement should be reviewed and clarified in order to cover all of the operator’s
missions, allow for more consistent monitoring and evaluation, and facilitate the exercise of
Central Government supervision.
A necessary clarification of the missions of the Sports Directorate
and the Agency, a strategic supervision to be affirmed
The refocusing of the Sports Directorate on state missions that cannot be delegated to
a GIP and on strategic steering, coordination and observation functions appears to be
consistent with the choice of entrusting an operator with the execution of a public policy.
However, its implementation presents numerous difficulties, which concern, on the one hand,
the capability of this central government sto carry out its new missions and, on the other hand,
the balance and clarity, which has not yet been achieved, of the respective missions of the
Sports Directorate and the Agency, both at the operational level and at the strategic and
political levels. More fundamentally, it raises the question of the respective legitimacy of these
two entities, which are both partners and competitors.
The necessary exercise of the Central Government’s st
rategic supervision over the
Agency requires political clarification and a re-legitimisation of the Sports Directorate and calls
for a more substantial reorganisation of that Directorate. Given the confusion that still exists in
the distribution of the respective missions and jurisdictions of the Sports Directorate and the
Agency, the establishment of a precise mapping and operational working protocols between
the two entities must be completed as soon as possible. The strategic supervision over the
Agency by the Sports Directorate must be reaffirmed and the appropriate tools and human
resources made available to the Sports Directorate.
Finally, the reform of sport governance is based, in return for a greater responsibility and
autonomy of the sport movement
, on the renovation of the Central Government’s supervision
of sports federations and on a substantial transformation of the federal model in terms of
transparency, ethics and democratic functioning. This part of the reform, adopted by
Parliament on 24 February 2022, must be implemented as soon as possible, lest the overall
balance be called into question.
A substantial but temporary increase in funding
in favour of sport, the Agency’s funding to be re
A strong increase in the Agency’s funding, du
e to cyclical measures,
a multiyear trajectory to be defined
The National Sports Agency, whose resources come almost exclusively from the Central
Government in the form of budgetary allocations and earmarked taxes, has benefited since its
creation from a v
ery substantial increase in the means allocated to it, reaching €461 million in
2022, well beyond the political goal of a budget higher than €400 million demanded by the
sport movement and the representatives of local governments. This stated goal has been
achieved mainly through non-permanent public resources resulting from measures taken in
the context of the recovery plan and the health crisis, and in view of the Paris 2024 Games.
The Agency had become the only
de facto
operator able to implement such measures, since
the Sports Directorate no longer had the means to do so. Apart from these non-permanent
resources, the Agency’s “structural” budget will be €307 million in 2022. For a proper
understanding of the Agency’s budgets and their evolution, a clear
distinction should be made
between structural means and non-permanent measures in both revenue and expenditure. It
is also desirable to clarify the medium-
term multiyear trajectory of the Agency’s budget, as
provided for by law.
A Central Government budgetary effort to be identified, consistency needed
In view of the Paris 2024 Games and also taking into account the above-mentioned non-
permanent measures, the Central Government’s budgetary effort for sport has also risen
sharply to €1.1 billion. Excluding P
rogramme 350 -
Olympic and Paralympic Games
and non-
permanent measures, the increase in Programme 219 -
is less, and is mainly due to the
creation of the “Sport Pass”, which amounts to approximately €740 million.
However, the actual effort of the Central Government cannot be fully assessed, as other
measures such as the rural equipment grant (DETR), the local investment support grant
(DSIL), the
National Fund for Regional Planning and Development
(FNADT), the Fund for the
Development of Community Life (FDVA) and the National Agency for Territorial Cohesion
(ANCT) are also involved in this field. An initial inventory by the Court leads to the estimation
that the minimum budget of subsidies, essentially investment subsidies, dedicated to sport,
ed by these mechanisms amounts to nearly €160 million; nothing distinguishes them in
their nature from those of the National Agency for Sport. A complete inventory should be
undertaken of all the measures of the Central Government’s budget planning mechani
sms that
finance sports policies, as the current budgetary annex is clearly insufficient in this respect,
and their coordination should be organised.
High level policy: clear choices, a policy to be strengthened
Rapid implementation, a welcome search for efficiency
The National Sports Agency has adopted the “Ambition bleue” strategy and action plan
based on clear, consistent choices: tightening of the measures with a more limited number of
disciplines and athletes recognised as high level; piloting of the various measures (Federal
Performance Projects, High Performance Circle, performance contracts of the federations, aid
to athletes and trainers) through performance on the basis of new monitoring and analysis
tools; innovation and research efforts; implementation and consistency at a territorial level.
This choice of a more relevant allocation of resources and a new performance culture based
on regular evaluations largely responds to the Court’s previous recommendations.
The Agency’s “High Performance” unit
was set up relatively quickly, and its organisation
makes it appear to be the most structured and advanced of the Agency’s missions. The
moderate but significant structural increase in the financial resources at its disposal and the
recent reinforcement of
the Agency’s human resources should enable the General Manager
of High Performance, who has their own powers, to carry out their missions, subject to the
necessary flexibility in the recruitment of the skillsets required for the Unit’s expertise.
A link to be perfected with the sports department
and other sport operators
However, the reform of the high performance policy, defined by the Central Government,
which entrusts the management and implementation to an operator, has not been completed
and, beyond the exercise of strategic supervision, the sports directorate has its own sovereign
and operational missions that require clarification and a reinforced linkage between the
respective missions and responsibilities of the two entities. The same applies to relations with
the other Central Government operators responsible for implementing the national strategy
driven by the Agency, which must be clarified and better structured. Beyond the goal of making
the Paris 2024 Games as successful as possible, it is important to give this new policy all the
means to succeed in the long term. In particular, this implies drawing all the consequences of
the structuring political choices made with the creation of the Agency and strengthening it in
its missions on high level and high performance.
The development of sports practices and the territorial governance
of sport: challenges to be met, clarifications to be made
The development of sport for all is the policy for which the ambition of a “
governance with distributed responsibilities
” of the sport governance reform appears to be the
most necessary in order to respond to public policy challenges. It justifies, much more than the
new high level and high performance policy, the choice of creating a National Agency for Sport
in the form of a public interest grouping.
A persistent dispersion of actions which compromises their efficiency
The Agency, which has taken over the measures relating to the development of sports
activities that were previously managed by the former National Centre for the Development of
Sport (CNDS) and by the Sports Directorate (the territorial share of the operating budget is
now managed by the sports federations), has seen its resources increase considerably in 2021
and 2022, in part for operating aid to sports federations and, above all, for investment aid for
the renovation and construction of sports facilities, through measures that are essentially non-
With regard to investment aid, the volume of which managed by the Agency, excluding
the above-mentioned exceptional measures, is less than half that of the other measures
identified (particularly the local investment support grant (DSIL) and the rural equipment grant
(DETR)), it would be appropriate to carry out an exhaustive assessment of this substantial
Central Government effort in favour of the renovation and construction of structural and local
sports facilities, and to examine and, if necessary, modify their respective rules, particularly
with regard to complementarity and possible accumulation. A procedure for coordinating
Central Government services, especially at the territorial level, and for evaluating the actual
effect of the various investment subsidies it provides is essential.
With regard to financial aid granted to clubs, departmental leagues and regional leagues
(the former territorial part of the CNDS), the takeover by the sports federations of the
investigation of such subsidies, which were previously decided outside of the federations,
should enable them to implement their priority federal development goals at the territorial level
in accordance with the Agency’s general guidelines. Nevertheless, the results for FY 2021
show an ever-increasing number of actions and structures funded (38,096 projects for
16,091 non-profi
t organizations funded, an average aid amount of €5,000). While the
significant increase in the territorial share, of the order of 30% between 2019 and 2021, partly
explains this development, questions remain as to the justification and actual effectiveness of
such small amounts of aid, which are very often out of all proportion to the operating aid that
clubs and associations receive from local governments. A real evaluation of the results and
efficiency of the actions funded in this way is needed.
A global steering system to be built
The creation of the National Sports Agency has led to renewed contractualisation
between the Central Government and the sports federations. Nevertheless, the reform results
in a multiplication of contracts, four in number, managed by two different entities (delegation
and employment contracts by the Sports Directorate, performance contracts, development
contracts and federal sports projects by the Agency).
If the will is to break with an administered management and to subject the renewal of
subsidies to sports federations to a prior evaluation of their results, it is still necessary that the
sports directorate as well as the Agency have the human resources and expertise to lead this
performance-based management approach, that the consequences be drawn on the amount
of subsidies paid and that this approach be supported on the political level. Above all, the
respective approaches of the Sports Directorate and the Agency must be articulated, both in
the allocation of human and financial resources and in the evaluation of the situation of each
However, there is currently no mechanism for joint dialogue between the Central
Government and its operator on the one hand, and the sports federations on the other. It is
therefore essential to put in place adequate steering mechanisms and to aggregate these
various contracts into a single document for each federation.
Prerequisites for successful territorial governance of sport
An essential part of the sport governance reform undertaken by the Act of 1 August 2019,
the implementation of regional sport conferences, territorial sport projects, multiyear orientation
and financing contracts, and conferences of funders, is intended to convey at the territorial
level the ambition of a “
shared governance with distributed responsibilities
” of sport policy in
France. Nevertheless, the refusal to clarify the jurisdictions of the various levels of local
governments in this field remains a major obstacle to the exercise of shared governance and
raises questions about the future success of the territorialised governance of sport.
The operating resources of the regional sports conferences, which today rely mainly on
Central Government services, must be specified, and particularly their coverage by local
governments, first and foremost the regions. The nature and legal scope of the multiyear goals
and funding contracts, which are supposed to be part of territorial sports projects but which
have not been drawn up in any region, must be clarified. The same is true for conferences of
funders, where some confusion prevails. Notwithstanding the position of principle of national
associations of elected representatives, the determination of leaders at the regional level
according to the strategic orientations adopted, in the absence of a clarification of the
jurisdictions of each level of authority, would facilitate the proper functioning of regional
conferences and the implementation of multiyear goals and funding contracts.
This territorial governance of sport must lead to coordination and complementarity of the
policies conducted by the various stakeholders, particularly as regards local governments. If it
were to remain limited to consultation on the management of Central Government funds
managed by the National Sports Agency, it would not have achieved the desired goal of
shared governance with distributed responsibilities
on governance
Organizing into a hierarchy and prioritising the goals set for the Agency and introducing new
indicators to enable a qualitative assessment of its action. Updating the agreement on goals
and means (
Ministry of Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Delegate Ministry for
Public Accounts, National Sports Agency
Reaffirming the strategic supervision of the Sports Directorate over the Agency (
Ministry of
Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games
On the resources of the National Sports Agency and the budgetary effort
of the Central Government
Clarifying the Agency’s budget by distinguishing between permanent and non
funding and expenditure. Adopting, as provided for by law, an indicative multiyear trajectory for
the evolution of its resources (
Ministry of Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games,
Ministry of Public Accounts, National Sports Agency
Identifying all the budgetary appropriations for sport and ensuring consistency between the
Central Government’s subsidy mechanisms (
Ministry of Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic
Games, Delegate Ministry for Public Accounts
On the high level and high performance policy
Clarifying the respective missions of the National Sports Agency and the Sports Directorate in
the area of high performance (
Ministry of Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games,
National Sports Agency
Ensuring the linkage and consistency of the allocation of jobs and appropriations assigned to
high performance, associating the General Manager of High Performance with the
appointments of officials assigned to high performance and ensuring the traceability of
decisions taken, particularly for the appointment of performance directors and national coaches
Ministry of Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, National Sports Agency
Ensuring the steering and implementation of the national strategy for high performance and
elite sport by the Central Government’s operators (INSEP, CREPS, national schools) through
agreements on goals with the National Sports Agency. Reviewing the
INSEP’s agreement on
goals and performance and the CREPS’ agreements on goals and resources accordingly
Ministry of Sport and Olympic and the Paralympic Games, National Sports Agency
On relations with sports federations and the territorial governance of
Ensuring consistency between delegation contracts, federal development contracts and federal
sports projects. Aggregating them in a single document and implementing procedures to
ensure a comprehensive, shared dialogue between the Central Government, the Agency and
the sports federations (
Ministry of Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, National
Sports Agency
Clarifying the territorial governance of sport and particularly the modalities for the elaboration
of multiyear goals and means contracts, as well as their nature and legal scope (
Ministry of
Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, National Agency for Sport