Russian sports economy: challenges and contradictions


Associate professor, Ph.D. T.V. Kalashnikova1
Associate professor, Ph.D. T.S. Selevich1
Associate professor, Ph.D. I.V. Krakovetskaya2
Professor, Dr.Sc.Econ. N.N. Ilysheva3
N.E. Danilova1                                 
1National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University
2National Research Tomsk State University
3Ural Federal University

Abstract. The article shows that development of sport tends to be a factor of country competitiveness. Nowadays, there is a need to find new forms and methods of promotion and popularization of physical culture and sport, to create a single sports information space and to provide sports area with more effective management decisions. There were revealed the main challenges in sports area such as the difference of sports facilities in various regions of Russia, the creation of low-budget sports facilities, the development of qualitative modern material and technical base in educational institutions and another issue is qualified personnel training. Methods of achievement of the goals of strategy 2020 are also illustrated in the paper, that is getting large and medium-sized business involved in construction and operation of sports facilities as social one, creation of a single sports information space in order to control the workload of all the sports venues despite the fact of department affiliation.

Keywords: physical culture, sport, development of sport, physical culture economy, sports facilities.

Introduction. Nietzsche: “Politics and sports are interconnected. Success gives rise to success. Economic upturn comes if people have a good mood”. Sports development tends to be a factor of country’s competitiveness. Nowadays, there is a need to find new forms and methods of sport promotion and physical culture popularization, to create a single sports information space and to provide a sports area with more effective management decisions. Physical culture is the essential part of people healthy life-style and nation prosperity on the political scene. Sports wins unite peoples and raise patriotic sentiments. As noted by Marshal Wellington in the 19th century: “All the wins of the Great Britain are forged at its sports ground”.

The purpose of the study was to reveal the key economic and managerial issues of development of physical culture and sport in the Russian Federation, to suggest some solutions to the issues by creating a specific control centers and changing the way of financing the industry.

Materials and methods. The research was conducted in 2014. The method of on-line survey was used to collect primary data (the sample of 120 pupils and students of educational institutions in big cities of Russia), as well as interviewing of experts (representatives of the Tomsk Youth Parliament and teachers of physical education in a number of schools and universities in the city of Tomsk). Besides that, a method of statistical analysis of the official secondary data was applied too.

Results and discussion. The key economic and managerial issues of development of sport and physical culture in the Russian Federation were revealed. Some solutions to the issues by creating specific control centers and changing the way of financing the industry were suggested. The proposals were discussed at the level of legislative bodies of the Tomsk region (in particular, as the projects of the Youth Parliament of the Tomsk region) and were highly appreciated.

Sports development tends to be one of the main factors of country’s competitiveness. There are good reasons why countries of the European Community have been recently discussing the possibility of extending sanctions from the production and finance level to the sports one, placing a ban on the Russian participation in international cultural and sports events and suspending the Russian membership in some international sports federations. The measure has not been taken yet but it might become a reality in the case of further escalation of the situation in Ukraine. 

It was sports achievements in many ways that helped the Russians regain the pride in their country after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The development of the sports area was related to top-priorities by the Russian President in the early 2000’s. This fact is reflected in the goals and objectives of physical culture and sports development strategy for the period up to 2020. Thus, there is a need to find new forms and methods of sport promotion and physical culture popularization in order to achieve the goals, to create a single sports information space and to provide sports area with more effective management decisions.

The terms Physical Culture and Economy of Physical culture are hardly used abroad. The more frequently used term Sport includes all activities such as instructions, training, sports government and etc. The authors of the paper studied the sport sector in Russia and defined a number of issues in the framework of economic and management decisions.

Thus, the key challenges in the sport sector which require government intervention as well as efficient business class actions are believed to be as follows:

1) Since the number of people engaged in sports activities greatly correlates with the number of sport facilities, it is necessary to increase the total number of the latter as well as to reduce the difference in these numbers in various regions of Russia. It is the task of both the Ministry of Sports and other departments. The organization of low-budget sports facilities within walking distance is an important task too. Low budget should not mean a bad quality. Expenses can be saved in different ways. A more important task is to get large and medium-sized businesses involved in the construction and operation of such facilities as social one.

Unfortunately, the construction of sports facilities in Russia has extremely low rates of return (approximately 8-12%) and the period of repayment (15-20 years in commercially popular sports such as football, hockey, tennis and in other sports) tends to infinity. The reasons are nonuniversality of the buildings, the long period and complexity of project approval procedure, costly building and narrow target group (approximately 6-8% at the average in Russia and twice as large in Moscow and St. Petersburg). At the present time, only big investors can afford to invest money in such projects for the love of sport or for good image reasons (for example the programme “Gazprom detyam” of Gazprom). Medium-size business with more rational goals has to create new approaches, for instance partly private and government partnership with the cost and function sharing contract.

After all, it is not enough just to construct the buildings. There is a need of efficient utilization of engineered buildings and existing projects. Here the difficulty is that customer is the owner of the built for him facility pursuant to the Russian law. All the documents and facilities are in his private ownership however if he wishes to build the same facility repeatedly he has issues with design rights of author of the project documentation. In other words, owner has to pay again for the same project. This issue should be solved at the legislative level.

2) Another important task is development of a qualitative modern material and technical base in educational institutions. Currently 96% of the city schools have gyms and only 78% of the village schools have them. The fact that advanced training technologies for schoolchildren started to be used at schools is important. Moreover, Physical Education is an obligatory subject in all federal educational standards of institution of higher education.

University sport should be not only an important part of the educational system and healthy lifestyle promotion but also a significant step in training of the sports reserve. It is to solve both issues in accordance with current trends and international experience. Advanced countries place special emphasis on the university sport development. Thus, student competition system should also help solve both tasks of reserve training and mass sport development. However, the international experience of ideology formation and sport event management needs to be adopted.

Schools and universities as institutions of rising generation personality formation should cultivate love of sport, sense of responsibility for one’s own health and show the role of sport in the personality development. It is assumed that a person who is engaged in sports activity from the childhood will seek to implement this habit throughout his/her life and pass on it to his/her children.

Next challenge for the Russian government is to provide sport facilities for the people: 33 thousand sports facilities have been introduced from 2006 to 2014, swimming pool provision is 9,9%, planar sports facilities – 30%, gyms – 62%, that amounts 38% in total from the necessary number of facilities (versus 20% in 2008). A number of programs of different levels in action in Russia are intended to eliminate gaps in this area, specifically the program called “500 swimming pools in Russian universities”. 50 swimming pools were put into service and 20 swimming pools are at the stage of construction.

The total number of sports facilities in Russia is still less than in Europe despite the high rate of construction. The amount of available facilities, school stadiums, recreation areas is insufficient. It is necessary to consider the prospect of the departmental sport system restoration in Russia which used to be involved not only in elite sport but also in restoration of workers’ health.

Another important point is the deficiency of regular popular sport events. System of regular obligatory competitions should be developed to solve the problem at the regional and federal levels.

4) Motivation of the people is another solution to the issue of sports economy. According to some estimates interest in sport in Russia is growing but it is passive: ‘Only one person out of twenty is really engaged in favorite sport in Russia. It means that people enjoy talking about sport, reading newspapers about sport, watching sports but it is not the same as exercising personally or doing sports.’ The challenge of the government is to change the people’s attitude towards sport, to encourage the active participation in sports and to promote healthy lifestyle.

The number of people involved in sport increased from 15% to 27,5% in 2008. Only 11% of people at the age from 30 to 60 are engaged in sports activities and only 3% in the older age group. These figures are very far behind the level of other countries. The number of people who regularly do some physical activity and sports should be significantly increased and reach at least 40% of the population in Russia by 2020 (80% among students). A modern and efficient government system of physical education is required to meet the challenge.

Special attention should be given to the rules of mass sport categories awarding which should motivate people to sport.

Another issue is qualified personnel training although the quality of sport personnel training in Russia is supposed to be universally recognized and they are in demand in the world market. The problem is that only 20% out of 5000 of coaching and training staff who have graduated from universities of physical culture work within their specialty. The rest have to leave the sport sector because of lack of necessary working conditions. The income level of coaches who work in the physical culture and sport sector is very low, most specialists have to work in other areas. The physical education teacher profession is supposed to be not prestigious in Russia. There is a deficit of qualified Russian coaches however around 20 thousand Russian specialists are working abroad according to experts’ estimates.

All these issues require an integrated approach and legislative changes. It is important to concentrate resources and efforts of government, municipalities and other public organizations in order to solve all the mentioned above problems.

Every year, 45-50 billion rubles of the federal budget is spent on physical culture and sport. The total expenditure of the budget system for physical culture and sports reaches about 180 billion rubles. That is the quarter of the total budget of the sport sector. The main federal responsibility is elite sport development that is the organization and participation in international and local sport events. Physical culture and mass sports development is responsibility of municipalities and other departments.

Table 1. Budget expenditures of the budget system on physical culture and sport, billion rubles.






Physical culture and sport, total






Federal budget





% of the total costs






Consolidated budgets of subjects of the Russian Federation without inter-budgetary transfer from Federal budget





% of the total costs





Conclusion. The creation of the centralized control system of monitoring of sports facilities condition, utilization and workload regardless department belonging can be one of the ways of the issue solution. It is also necessary to organize special-purpose financing to eliminate sports facility deficiencies. This financing is supposed to be more effective than investing money in the expansion of the number of sports facilities.  Organization of efficient use of existing resources is also necessary.


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