Is there future for football in Belarus?

The State Program for Football Development is ending this month. Over the past five years, small stadiums were built and balls were supplied, but the state program implemented in 2011-2015 can not be described as super-efficient.

Many tasks envisaged by the program were not fulfilled. For example, the reconstruction of Dynamo stadium in Minsk was scheduled to be finished by 2013. Today, the new deadline is mentioned as 2019.

Among the grandiose plans, the program envisaged preparations to bid for hosting the Europe League final - something that did not happen due to the lack of a proper arena in the country. There were also plans to launch a paid football TV channel. However, people do not rush to attend Supreme League matches - even for symbolic ticket prices. 

Sports schools with football academies for children exist in a good half of districts in Belarus. They churn out graduates like mushrooms after rain in summer but they somehow disappear later. 

Anatol Hlaz, head of Mahilou Football Federation

Nothing is heard about a new state program for football. Officials at Belarusian Football Federation refer to the document titled  Vision 2020, which has no data about funding but only contains achievements and goals.

Will Belarusian football not receive fully the amount equal to Br1.4 billion (around $167 million back in 2011)? That's exactly how much the state program for 2011-2015 envisaged.

“A state program for 2016-2020 cannot exist yet. As a rule, when such projects end, the Council of Ministers sums up the results and adopts a new program. Realistically, such a program could be passed in the second half of the next year," explains Anatol Hlaz, head of Mahilou Football Federation and former member of parliament.  

The football figure reckons funding for Belarusian football will not be cut in the next season. The reasons is that at least 13 teams in the Supreme League do not have a self-sustainable budget.

At the same time, Anatol Hlaz reflects on other problems that need to be addressed anyway in the framework of a new state program or without it.

“Sports schools with football academies exist in a good half of Belarusan disricts. They churn out graduates like mushrooms after rain in summer but nobody sees them afterwards. At the regional level, a couple of billion rubles are spent on them. If those academies were controlled by the management of Supreme League clubs, they could use them as academes for their own team. Unfortunately, this is not the case," says the head of the football federation in Mahilou.