Germany - Roles of government

16 November 2018
Germany - Roles of government

Germany - Roles of government , state sponsor approach in DCA/policy in regard to elite sport performance and elite athlete’s support

According to :, German sport system,


“Germany has a proud history in competitive sport, consistently finishing among the top nations in summer Olympics, and currently the top nation in winter Olympics. This is due to the well structured athlete-centred high performance programs which are built on a culture of mass participation in sport as a leisure activity in Germany, in which 27 million people are members of 90,000 sports clubs. The German Sports Federation (Deutsche Sportbund, or DSB) has been the umbrella organization of the 16 national sports federations (regions), central associations, (NSOs), numerous specialist associations, as well as all the clubs aligned with them. Around 2.7 million members work in a voluntary capacity in these associations, as coaches, trainers, physiotherapists or officials. This organisation is currently ….merged with the National Olympic Committee (NOK) to form the German Olympic Sport Federation (DOSB)…………The Federal government Ministry of the Interior (BMI) is the government department responsible for the development and promotion of sport in Germany. They are primarily concerned with promotion of high performance sport, of which the main elements are: significant funding of federal central sports associations (NSOs), responsibility for the system of elite training centres in Germany (Olympic training centres, federal training bases and Federal achievement centres), and assistance for construction of sports facilities (often in conjuction with Lander (state) and municipal governments). Significant funding for high performance sport also comes from public lottery funds, state governments, and private sources, in particular the German Sports Assistance Donation Fund. This body is essentially the welfare association of high performance sport, playing a prominent role in ensuring that athletes enjoy financial security with annual support of around 12 million Euros.

The German high performance program is well-structured. The Olympic training centres and national sports centres provide top athletes with the best possible training conditions as well as extensive physiotherapy, coaching, medical and social care. Intensive training, all-embracing healthcare and social support as well as financial security are seen by the German authorities as fundamental prerequisites for success….


Roles of government, Federal Ministry of the Interior


The promotion of sport is one of the tasks of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Upon achieving office, the coalition that currently forms government expressly mentioned the support of sport as one of its major objectives. The Federal government are primarily concerned with promotion of high performance sport. High-performance sport measures are mainly supported through the federal sport associations, Olympic training centres and federal training centres.

Particularly the following areas receive financial assistance:

-Seminars, training and competition programmes,

-Staff members working for the federal sport associations (coaches, admininistrators etc),

-The hosting of world and European championships in Germany,

-Assistance in sport sciences and social measures,

-Advice and assistance of elite athletes in matters relating to sport medicine, physiotherapy, training and social affairs,

-Organisation of central training measures of the federal sport associations for high - performance athletes and other measures in sport for which the Federation is responsible, such as advanced training of coaches at the federal training centres

-Construction and maintenance of sport facilities, including equipment procurement.


 Construction of sport facilities:


The Federal Ministry of the Interior also promotes the construction of sport facilities in three areas:

A special focus is on the promotion of sport facilities for high-performance sport. 22.7 million euros were used for this purpose in 2004.

“Golden Plan East”: through this special assistance programme the Federal Government participates in the construction of sport institutions and facilities for mass sport in the new federal states and the former eastern part of Berlin, even though the development of mass sport is primarily the task of the Länder (states) and not of the Federation. From 1999 to 2004, 60 million euros of federal funds have been and will be used for the construction of gym halls, pitches and swimming pools.

A one-off payment of 247 million euros has been provided for the modernisation of the Berlin Olympic Stadium and the reconstruction of the Leipzig Central Stadium for the FIFA World Cup 2006.

The government also provides jobs in the Bundeswehr, the Federal Border Guard and customs elite athletes.


State/Lander Government

As a general rule the Lander governments (of which there are 16) are responsible for supporting mass participation sport however in practice they do provide support for high performance measures such as contributing to maintenance of Olympic bases.6 See funding section for further detail.

Local Government- Municipalities

In general terms the municipalities are the principal provider of funding for sport in Germany. They not only subsidise sports clubs, but also provide and maintain sports facilities, particularly sports fields, sports halls and swimming pools. Thus, approximately EUR 3.1 billion in municipal funding is spent on sport each year.


The sports system in Germany is built on a network of clubs and a massive participant base. All of these are gathered under the umbrella organisation called the German Sports Federation.


According to :


Comparative Elite Sport Development: systems, structures and public policy



The social importance of sport is becoming increasingly evident in different sectors such as public health, leisure and competitive sports. Reflecting the increasing social importance of sport the German Olympic Sports Confederation (Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund, DOSB) launched, in 2006, an initiative with the aim of incorporating sport into the German Basic Law as a government objective. 

The social and political significance of sport is indicated not only by the extent of media interest in competitive sport, but also by the capacity of sports events to regularly attract record attendances. The significance of competitive sportsmen and women as role models and the potential that competitive sport offers as a tool to represent a country internationally are explicitly recognised by the Federal Government and also by the Lander (states) which both offer extensive financial support to promote what has become a quite elaborate and sophisticated competitive sport system.

However, establishing and maintaining the general conditions necessary for an effective competitive sport system is not unproblematic. Creating social conditions that support ‘top level’ sport calls for political management and intervention which is evident, but only to some extent, in Germany. Neither party political sports programmes nor the government institutions responsible for sport indicate that top level sport has been granted a particular priority which, in part, reflects the deeply embedded principle of the autonomy of sport which is embodied in the differentiated structures that exist for the self- administration of sport. In general, Germany is less interventionist in sport, including elite sport, compared to many other countries.

The merger of the National Olympic Committee for Germany (NOC) and the German Sports Confederation (DSB), which was completed in May 2006, can be seen as a reaction to the poor results achieved in Sydney and Athens, even though there were a number of other reasons for the merger as well. With a view to other sporting nations, stronger centralisation of top level sports organisation was called for following the two Games and was also partially achieved with the establishment of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB).

The main bodies involved in the top level sports system are the clubs and the sports federations. The clubs form the basis of top level sport. They admit children and young people, introduce them to sport and spot talent. In particular, however, the clubs act as a social system which creates security for the athletes and in which their daily sporting activities are embed- ded. This inclusive role is extremely important in a system which is otherwise unconditionally focused on selection. This occasionally causes problems when, despite a lack of infra- structure and support options at their local club, talented athletes are not redirected to better equipped clubs or training centres.

As each discipline in Germany can only be represented nationally by a single sports federation, the latter have a representative and organisational monopoly for their discipline. At present, there are 33 Olympic and 27 non-Olympic national sports federations. The federations organise the German cham- pionships and also nominate and send national teams to world and European championships. In addition, they are responsible for preparing athletes and teams for these major events and also establish squads of talented young athletes and top level athletes for this purpose. All the federations have their own more or less differentiated development concepts for top level sport. In addition to these specialised development plans and concepts, elite sport development in Germany is characterised by a comprehensive support system which is based on three interlocking subsystems or pillars: the squad system, the training centre system and the coaching system. The combined system of top level sport and science and the combined system of schools, universities and other establishments of higher education, the Federal Armed Forces and the Federal Police, all work across the three pillars.

The squad system plays a key role in this regard and constitutes the formal basis for the various sub-aspects of support for top level sport. As in many other countries, athletes in the German top level sports system are classified according to a hierarchical model in which a distinction is made between different squads (A, B, C, C/D and D). The criteria for allocation to a particular category are the athlete’s age as well as his/her performance and performance potential. The support provided is not confined to the purely financial aspect. In the training of young athletes, it is focused, in particular, on providing the required age-related support for a successful sporting career, based on performance development. The squad system constitutes the organisational framework for this support and is linked to the different development levels on the way to reach- ing the top of the international ladder (DSB, 1997, p. 18).

The talent support groups are the first level in the selection of talent at schools and clubs. The next group up is the so-called D squad, which comprises talented young athletes. The youngest competitive athletes in the top level sports system are organised in this squad. It relates to the regional structure of the top level sports system and comprises the largest number of athletes. Via two further squad levels, the best athletes reach the respective A squads. Based on their performances and their potential, the A squad athletes compete at world level in their sport or discipline. In order to be named in the top level squad, athletes need to achieve success at international competitions and meet performance standards that are in line with world standards. Special squad levels, the so-called Olympic squads or world championship squads of the individual sports federations, are organised via this squad level and they relate to upcoming major events.

The training centre system aims to make available to all athletes nation-wide performance-oriented training groups, qualified coaches and suitable coaching and training facilities for performance-oriented training. With the exception of the 20 multi-sports Olympic training centres, this involves sport- specific training centres at municipal, regional or national level, which are recognised by the national sports federations. This training centre system is complemented by the schools with a sports focus and the elite sports schools which cooperate with the sports federations’ training centres.

In order to ensure that the quality of coaching and training is consistent throughout the country and across all performance levels, initial and advanced training for coaches in all the sports federations is structured in a four-tier coaching system, the uppermost tier being the training course at the DOSB’s Coaches’ Academy in Cologne leading to the qualification of state-certified ‘qualified coach’. Both voluntary and full-time coaches work at the training centres. In addition, regional and national coaches employed on a full-time basis normally coordinate the training process at regional and national level and also coach the relevant selections and supervise training courses run by the federations.

Under Article 30 of the Basic Law, the 16 federal regions are generally responsible for subsidising sport in the Federal Republic of Germany. The main focus in this regard is on the area of subsidies for school sport, university sport, sport for all and leisure sport within and outside the federations, and on the construction of sports facilities. Responsibility for top level sport, however, lies with the Federal Government, with the Federal Ministry of the Interior operating as the specialised department. The latter plays the leading role in the area of state support for top level sport. It also coordinates the activities of the other federal ministries that have specific responsibilities in the area of top level sport, such as supporting top level sport in the Federal Armed Forces.

To sum up, we can say that the relationship between the DOSB and the Ministry of the Interior is characterised by the following features:

1  The Federal Ministry of the Interior provides the financial subsidies and lays down the support principles. The focus of support is on the Olympic sports and the allocation of funds is based on the performance principle. The 4-year Olympic cycle is critical in this regard.

2  The DOSB tries to influence the support principles by developing strategy papers and sees itself as the sole policy adviser in respect of top level sport.

3  However, the actual capacity of the DOSB to determine elite sport policy is, in practice, moderated by its relationship with the Federal Government.

4  The Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) refuses to transfer sole responsibility for implementing support for top level sport to the DOSB primarily due to an unwillingness to surrender control.


German Sport Federation (DSB- Deutscher Sportbund)

The German sport federation is the largest registered association in Germany, with approximately 27 million memberships in 90 000 sport associations. These are organised into 90 member organisations.

Each year the sport associations are run by approximately 2.7 million volunteers that donate over 500 million work and practice hours.

The DSB exists to represent and promote the interests of its members at federal, state and municipal level within all socio-political and cultural ranges. This includes playing a major role in planning, controlling and evaluating national and sport-specific high performance programs, as well as being the body to implement many initiatives concerning mass participation issues in sport.

Much of the pragmatics of planning, and monitoring sport and high performance programs are thus in essence delegated to the DSB by Federal and State governments. The governments can do this without any risk, as the member bodies of the DSB are dependant on government funding and thus ultimately accountable to the governments. The DSB is the central organisation in German Sport administration. As it brings together so many organisations, the scope for inclusive planning is great. The amalgamation with the National Olympic Committee means that no non-governmental sports body of any significance will be excluded from the macro body.

The German sport federation finances itself from member contributions, funds for high- performance sport from the Federal Budget, lottery receipts (50% of total funds come from national lottery receipts8), and marketing licences.


The members of the German sport federation (Bundestag) are:

16 national sport federations (state associations) 55 central associations (NSOs)

11 sport federations with special setting of tasks 6 federations for science and education

2 promotion federations

Areas of Responsibility of DSB Regarding High Performance

The DSB plays a crucial role in the promotion and controlling of sport regarding high performance, from the talent search to the Olympic preparation. This is conducted primarily through the „achievement sport‟ division. This section has 4 divisions: summer haven, winter sports, new generation and sport science, and base system and sports medicine/physiotherapy.

The aim of achievement sport is to maintain Germany‟s standing in world sport, via the implementation of the national high-performance sport concept and its subsidiary concepts. The DSB role is to judge high performance sport as a whole and steer developments. This allows them to tackle mainly macro high performance issues. For example, significant reforms are being implemented to reverse the declining attractiveness of coaching as a profession, and the fusing of DSB with NOK is also in part an attempt to improve the efficiency of high performance sport structures. Generally though high performance programs for each sport are developed and implemented by the relevant central association.

The new German Olympic Sports Federation is likely to be more active and involved in constructing and reviewing individual high performance programs.

Summer haven

The central task of the department summer haven is sport-technical consultation, investigation as well as controlling of the summer Olympic sports federations and the non- Olympic federations:

- Assisting/monitoring the yearly planning of the central associations (NSOs)

- Initiation and tuning of the federation-specific structure plans for achievement sport promotion (high performance programs)

- The definition and permission of the structures of the achievement sport personnel in the central associations

- The development of a kind of sport-specific cadre and nominating criteria as well as base criteria in coordination with the central associations.

- Sport-technical investigation and coordination sports facilities construction for the high performance sport (kinds of summer haven) in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the countries and municipalities as well as further partners.

- Regulation and monitoring of coaching

Winter sports

The central task of the winter sports department is sport-technical consultation, investigation as well as control of the Olympic winter sports federations (same tasks as summer haven for winter sports however), with the addition of:

- The coordination of the sport promotion by the German Federal Armed Forces, the Federal Border Police, the tariff, the civil service as well as the donation German sport assistance.

New generation achievement sport and sport science

The central task of the department is the development of the structures needed to develop the next and future generations of German elite sport, in co-operation with the partner organisations, in particular the national sport federations (LSB), the central associations, the sport conference of ministers (SMK) as well as the conference of Secretary of cultural affairs (KMK):

- The co-ordination of the achievement sport promotion in the countries

- The advancement of structures to assist the new generation cadres at country and federal level

- The development of effective basic conditions, in particular to ensure preparation for future career (elite schools of the sport, co-operation high-performance sport and universities)

- Association (club) promotion for exemplary talent development

- Increase of the effectiveness of the "scientific compound system," which is a network of sport science bodies. The cooperating institutions include: Institute for applied training science (IAT), Institute for research and development of sport devices (FES), the university institutes, the Olympic bases and the trainers' academy Cologne of FCB.

- Further fields of activity are the publication of the training-scientific technical periodical "achievement sport" as well as the organisation and execution of the national team coaches seminar, which is the only multiple sport advanced training seminar.

 Base system and Sport medicine/physiotherapy

 The role of this department is to provide sport-technical and financial consultation, co- ordination and control of the Olympic bases as well as federal achievement centres:

- The assistance in determination of the annual and medium-term financial plans of the Olympic bases and federal achievement centres

- The determination of services and sports catered for at olympia bases in coordination with the central associations for each Olympic cycle

- The tuning and definition of the personnel development concepts of the base system - The advancement of the base system.

- Further fields of activity are the co-ordination, control and support of the sport-medicine system in high-performance sport; the organisation of training seminars for sports physiotherapy; and advanced training regarding high-performance sport for those in the sport-medicine profession.


According to Athletes Careers Across Cultures (Natalia B. Stambulova, Tatiana V. Ryba, Routledge, 7.06.2013)


Three governmental organizations offer permanent and temporal occupational positions to athletes, thus giving financial support for a full-time sports career and an education within the organization during and/or after the career. These three organizations are the Federal Police, Federal Customs and the German Army (Bundeswehr). In addition, some private companies contribute to financial and educational support by offering part-time jobs or apprenticeships to elite athletes.

The latest development is a cooperative contract that was signed in 2009 between sport federations and German universities. The so-called ‘partner universities of top level sport’ support athletes with some small financial contribution and with organizational offers by allowing athletes to adapt their curriculum obligations to their sport career planning. This means, for example, that athletes can prolong their education at universities and adapt their schedule to the demands of their sport. In the following sections, the above mentioned career assistance programs are presented and their effectiveness studies are reported.

The structures of elite sport development are embedded in this framework. The DOSB’s Performance Division and the equivalent structures at regional level (Regional Performance Committee/LA-L) play a guiding and coordinating role in elite sport development. The Performance Sports Division is responsible for managing and coordinating top level sport within the DOSB. It launches initiatives for the development of strategic plans and makes declarations of principle regarding performance sport for young athletes and top level sport. Currently, the main strategy papers in this area are the National Top Level Sports Concept, the Support Concept 2012 and the Concept of Top Level Sport for Young Athletes 2012. However, these strategy papers have not yet been combined into a single, comprehensive development plan. At the regional level the criteria for promoting talent are laid down by the Regional Committees for Performance Sport (LA-L).