Switzerland accidentally funds German town's sports clubs for over 12 years
When thinking about the Swiss government, you’d hope elected officials would know where Switzerland ends and Germany, Italy, Austria, France and Lichtenstein begin. Not so for the Federal Office of Sport (FOSPO) in Bern, who have accidentally funded the sports clubs of one German city for over 12 years. Their excuse? They thought the town was in Switzerland.
German town receives Swiss government funding since 2009
According to Blick, the German town of Büsingen am Hochrhein, Baden-Württemberg, received direct funding from the government to pay for sports clubs and the Youth + Sport programme - the largest sports promotion scheme in Switzerland, which is designed to help children and young people get into sports. The German enclave, which is surrounded by the Rhine River and Canton Schaffhausen, received 60.000 francs before authorities realised their mistake.
According to FOSPO, Büsingen tennis club has received funding from Switzerland since 2009, and the gymnastics club has been supported by the alpine nation since 2011. What’s more, between 9.000 and 15.000 francs were paid to FC Büsingen each year between 2018 and 2021. The funding, which was sourced from Swiss taxes, has now been suspended.
Swiss federal department did not know Büsingen was in Germany
Defending his department’s actions, FOSPO head of communications Christoph Lauener said that "it was not obvious to our workers that Büsingen was not a Swiss municipality.” He said that the office had assumed that Büsingen was part of Schaffhausen, noting that the canton had not done much to rectify the situation.
For their part, Canton Schaffhausen told Blick that as Büsingen has a Swiss postal code, and since many of the town's sports clubs participate in Swiss leagues, they saw the spending as a "grey area." In fact, the head of the sport and family department of the canton, Daniel Spitz, is also the head of juniors for FC Büsingen, with the representative telling Blick that around 85 percent of club members either live in Switzerland or are Swiss citizens.
After cutting their funding, FOSPO said it understood the disappointment among club members in Büsingen, but argued that the state could not legally subsidise sports clubs in other countries. The department concluded that in order for Büsingen to receive the funding, a political treaty would have to be agreed upon and signed with the German government.