Austerity moves goalposts as Spain’s hockey players asked to pay to play

Under-21s to be charged 80 euros a day to attend Junior World Cup in India

Spanish hockey player Pol Amat in the final of the 2008 Beijing Olympics against Germany.
Spanish hockey player Pol Amat in the final of the 2008 Beijing Olympics against Germany. AS

Even Spain’s array of talented sports teams have failed to escape the deficit-reduction ax of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The players selected to represent Spain at the under-21 hockey Junior World Cup in December of this year will have to pay for the privilege of doing so.

The head of Spain’s Hockey Federation, José Antonio Gil, said the association had to appeal to the sense of solidarity of the players and their parents as a result of an expected 40-percent cut in government subsidies for this year, which will come on top of a 22-percent reduction last year.

The 20 players selected for the tournament in India will have to pay a daily fee of 80 euros to help cover travel, accommodation and food costs. For the entire squad, that amounts to a total of around 18,000 euros over the course of the competition.

The father of an under-16 Spanish hockey player lent his house to the squad 

Under-16 and under-18 hockey players are due to be charged similar payments when they compete.

The hockey federation said that while the fees are temporary, they are common practice elsewhere. “The formula might be new in Spain but in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and England the players assume their traveling expenses,” said Gil.

The cuts in Spanish sport are being felt most among the generation of talent due to emerge at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2020 Games, which Madrid is bidding to host. One of the first symptoms of a worsening situation occurred last year when the father of an under-16 Spanish hockey player lent his house in Terrassa to allow the squad to prepare for the European championships.

Last December the Spanish swimming federation opted not to send a waterpolo team to the first world junior championships in Australia. Neither did it send a synchronized swimming team to the World Trophy in Mexico the month before.

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