On 1 January 2017, the new amendments to the Hungarian Sports Act will come into force. Sports stakeholders should be ready for these changes and take the appropriate steps to comply with the new legal requirements. Below we discuss the key changes affecting sports stakeholders in practice.
Public financing of sports
Up until now, the Hungarian Olympic Committee (“HOC“) was responsible for the entire lifecycle of sports financing. Under the new regime, the State Secretary responsible for Sport will take charge of these tasks, including the planning, distribution, use and monitoring of public aid. Therefore, sports bodies, such as federations, associations and clubs, will now have to deal with the State Secretary responsible for Sport directly, which will likely lead to less administration and a more effective public sports financing system.
New internal regulations for sports federations required
Following the amendments to the Sports Act, all Hungarian sports federations will have up to 45 days to adopt internal regulations on ethical rules, the protection of minors, and the health of athletes. These regulations should, in particular, protect the health and physical integrity of minors.
Within the same 45-day deadline, federations will have to amend their current transfer regulations so that these contain provisions on athletes’ sporting activities and protection of their interests. From the athletes’ perspectives, it will likely be easier to establish players unions to collectively represent their interests to sports federations.
Protection of athletes’ personal data to be closely scrutinised
The changes to the Sports Act make clear that both sports federations and clubs will have to adopt appropriate data protection regulations. It is important to note in this context that athletes’ medical data should be treated much more strictly than general personal data. Federations and clubs should therefore take extra care to ensure that athletes’ data is treated and processed lawfully.
The so-called National Sports Information System will also become operational, most likely in the second half of 2017. Once it has gone live, federations and clubs will have to supply athletes’ data to this centralized system. Any federation or club not complying with data protection rules may be subject to the relevant legal sanctions.
The Hungarian Olympic Committee’s new role & three new public sports bodies
From 1 January 2017, the HOC will no longer be responsible for public financing of sports, and will focus its activities on the Olympic movement, as well as drafting and implementing plans for the development of sports.
Further, in addition to the HOC, three new public sports bodies will be established: the National Professional Federation, the Hungarian Paralympic Committee, and the National Student and Spare Time Sports Federation, each responsible for the public administration of its respective area.
The financing and regulation of sport in Hungary is changing in a way that will affect the day-to-day practices of sports stakeholders. Sports stakeholders should therefore pay due attention to these changes and be ready for the challenges that they will bring.
Those that adapt quickly to the changes may find themselves with a head start in the new year.