The Malta Independent 20 October 2019, Sunday

Malta spends just €32 per head on sports and recreation – Eurostat

Albert Galea Thursday, 26 September 2019, 11:58 Last update: about 23 days ago

Malta spends just €32 per head on sports and recreation, well below the European Union average and only more than five countries in the group of countries, data published by Eurostat shows.

The data published by the European Union’s statistics body shows that, in 2017, Malta spent only 0.4% of its GDP on sports and recreation, with Ireland, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom all spending the same percentage, and only Croatia spending less (0.2%).

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At the other end of the spectrum, Hungary spent 2.5% of its GDP on sport and recreation, followed by Estonia (1.4%) and Luxembourg (1.2%). 

Ultimately, the amounts spent by EU governments can be put into perspective with the size of the population of each Member State.

The lowest recreation and sport expenditure per head was recorded in Croatia (€13 per inhabitant) and Bulgaria (€16), followed by Slovakia (€23), Romania (€25), Lithuania (€31) and Malta (€32).

Eurostat’s data shows that the total general government expenditure in 2017 stood at €14.8 million; up from €9.6 million in the previous year.  In terms of expenditure as compared to the country’s GDP, that signifies an increase of 0.1% - from 0.3% to 0.4%. 

The last time government spending on sports and recreation has reached that level of GDP expenditure was in 2012.

Meanwhile, recreation and sport government expenditure per inhabitant was above €200 in three EU Member States in 2017: Luxembourg (€492 per inhabitant), Sweden (€256) and Finland (€206), closely followed by the Netherlands (€199), Denmark (€192) and France (€183).

The European average for recreation and sport government expenditure per inhabitant stood at exactly €100.

The total government expenditure on recreation and sport across all 28 EU member states in 2017 stood at €51.3 billion.

Overall, in the EU, the general government expenditure on recreation and sport has remained stable as a percentage of total expenditure since the beginning of the time series in 2004, Eurostat said.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has more than once said that he wants to see Malta moving forward in sport, saying in an interview last year that the government was ready to consider doubling the national sports budget, but only when the sports federations and associations set specific targets.

A national sports strategy was launched by the government last May which will cover a 10-year period and see up to €30 million invested in new sport facilities, as well as €6 million invested in athlete training, over and above the €11 million granted to Sport Malta every year.

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