German athlete group secures independent government funding

Photo: Thomas Søndergaard/Play the Game

Silke Kassner speaking at Play the Game 2017 about securing athletes' rights. Photo: Thomas Søndergaard/Play the Game


By Stine Alvad
German athletes now have an athlete institution aiming to unite and empower athletes, funded independently of the country’s NOC, the DOSB.

German athlete institution, Athleten Deutschland e.V. has been granted government funding independent of the German Olympic Committee (DOSB). That brings the German athlete group one step closer to their target of changing athlete representation worldwide into becoming more independent from federations and governments.

A recent decision by the German Sports Commission to grant Athleten Deutschland a start-up grant of 225,000 euro, will help "fulfill the urgent desire of the athletes to be able to build their own, professional representation," writes German news media Deutschlandfunk.

"It's a great relief for us personally, and we're excited to be able to help shape the sport," said fencer Max Hartung about the funding. Hartung is leading the initiative together with canoer Silke Kassner. Both are currently heading the DOSB’s Athletes’ Commission.

Athletes are too far away from decision making
Deutchland Athleten e.V. was set up in October 2017 as a reaction to a sports system that, according to the group, does not work in favour of the athlete.

“The structure is the problem,” said Silke Kassner, presenting the new institution at Play the Game 2017.

“The entire construction of the sports system is the pyramid. The much broader bottom is the athletes, the protagonists of the competition, but we are far away from decisions that affect us.”

“We no longer want to be a fique leaf in a statue or an insignificant minority on a board. As the central stakeholders, we want to play the role we deserve, that is our right according to democratic principles. We encourage athletes worldwide to do the same, to show solidarity and to speak up for their rights,” she said.

The two athletes recently expressed their critique of the current relation between athletes and federations in an open letter to IOC president Thomas Bach, calling for the IOC to change the distribution system of Olympic Games’ revenue. In the letter, they suggest that 25% is directly distributed to the athletes and that a further 10% go to financing anti-doping management. See the open letter (includes link to English version)

While the DOSB is on the letterhead of the open letter, the new group wants to break with the umbrella organisation in order to secure transparency for how funds for athletes are spent and distributed.

The IOC president has invited the German athletes behind the open letter as well as DSOB president Alfons Hörmann to a meeting to “discuss and explain” the way the IOC is currently supporting athletes. The meeting is set for September 19, writes Insidethegames.

Further reading


Read also Jens Sejer Andersen’s speech to the WADA Global Athletes Forum, in which he calls on athletes to raise their voices to secure their rights:

The athlete’s right to have a voice


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