New government: why the return of a "real" Sports Ministry can change things, two years before the Paris Olympics

New government: why the return of a “real” Sports Ministry can change things, two years before the Paris Olympics

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Two questions occupied the minds of sports and political enthusiasts before the announcement of the first Borne government. What profile would the person who would take over from Roxana Maracineanu have? In addition, will sport recover a full-fledged ministry or will it remain under tutelage? The Elysée Palace put an end to the suspense on Friday 20 May by appointing Amélie Oudéa-Castera to the position of Minister of Sports for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Beyond the name of the lucky woman, this election of a “royal” ministry is important for the future place of sport in French society. It can even be perceived as a surprise. “For me it is irreversible, there will not be a full-fledged ministry… unless it is a political will of the President”told franceinfo: sport Jean-François Lamour, Minister of Sports between 2002 and 2007, before the announcement of the new government.

For the past two years, the sport has been under the supervision of the Ministry of National Education and Youth, after experiencing the start of Macron’s first five-year term with a full-fledged ministry, led by Laura Flessel, then Roxana Maracineanu. The latter was demoted to the rank of deputy minister in July 2020.

In recent history, sport has also been under the tutelage of the Ministry of Health, with Bernard Laporte (2007-2009) and Rama Yade (2009-2010) “only” Secretaries of State. He was also directly in the Prime Minister’s purse, as in 1995-1997, with Guy Drut as deputy minister to Alain Juppé, head of government.

Minister of State, Minister, Delegate Minister, Secretary of State: these formulations hide differences beyond the symbolic. Honorary title, the designation of Minister of State “highlights the special importance given to a minister or the portfolio for which he is responsible”, we can read on the government website. A minister enjoys the full exercise of the constitutional powers of his office, while a deputy minister and a secretary of state exercise “with the Prime Minister or a responsible minister”.

Roxana Maracineanu and Laura Flessel, during the transfer to the Ministry of Sports, September 4, 2018. (FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP)

“Complete ministry or not, it’s not the title that counts”however ensures Thierry Braillard, former Secretary of State for Sports from April 2014 to May 2017 during the presidency of François Hollande. “What needs to be analyzed is the adjudication decree that will be published in a few days. It will say who does what.”

the one that is today President of the French Sports Foundation illustrates his point by specifying that after a reorganization in 2016, the award decree granted him “all sports policy”although it was under the supervision of Patrick Kanner, Minister of the City, who in fact had no “no effective role in sport”.

Jean-François Lamour is not going in the same direction. For him, status is important, because “The Secretary of State does not negotiate the budget. It is the control minister who manages it”. “The same for human resources: it does not intervene in the number of agents recruited or in the total number of positions that will have to disappear. A Secretary of State has almost no autonomy or voice in the matter”says the former Olympic fencing champion.

Jean-François Lamour, then Minister of Sports, on February 16, 2005, in the National Assembly.  (ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP)

In addition to the lower salary, a Secretary of State does not attend the Council of Ministers, unlike ministers and deputy ministers, unless one of his files is on the agenda. Above all, he weighs less in the discussions to win arbitrations.

“That said, being a full-fledged minister doesn’t mean we’ll get a bigger budget. The amount going to sports has never gone down as much as it has under Laura Flessel, but a full-fledged minister.”

Thierry Braillard, former Secretary of State for Sports

on franceinfo: sport

On the weight of sport in government policy, the two former members of a government deplore the reduction to a minimum of the sports administration, with a continuous decline in the number of its officials. Prayed, “The minister, his policy is his administration,” supports Thierry Braillard.

Both also agree in their criticism of the positioning of sport under the tutelage of National Education from 2020 to May 2022. “I find that this diluted management. The agents found themselves a bit choked.” hits the president of the French Sports Foundation. The prospect of the Paris Games in 2024 probably guided the Elysee and Matignon in choosing a “Minister for Sports, Olympic and Paralympic Games”.

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