Federation boss stresses country could lose Portuguese Open altogether
Miguel Franco de Sousa, president of the Portuguese Golf Federation has slated the lack of support for the Portuguese Open from the Portuguese state, stressing the Challenge Tour event could be in jeopardy.
On the eve of the start of the 61st edition of the Portuguese Open, at the Royal Óbidos Spa & Golf Resort, Miguel Franco de Sousa warned that the country is “seriously at risk of losing the Portuguese Open” – the only national event that qualifies for the Challenge Tour and which this year features seven Portuguese professionals.
“We have very important partners in organising this event, namely Royal Óbidos, which is the main sponsor, but unfortunately there has been a reduction in support from public bodies, whether from the Secretary of State for Tourism, through Turismo de Portugal, or through the Portuguese Institute for Sport and Youth, IPDJ, through the Secretary of State for Sport, and also from the Óbidos town council, which seems to have to realise that this is a very important event for promoting the region as a quality golf destination,” de Sousa told Lusa.
As such, the federation president said that preparing for the event has been very difficult
“And, given the decisions (to cut funding) taken by the government, we’re surprised and wonder if golf is an important tourist product for the country, or if it’s merely an accessory?
“Perhaps this is a question that should be asked of the Secretary of State for Tourism, in particular, but also of the Secretary of State for Sport, who has shown himself to be so concerned about the financing of sports federations by non-state entities, and then the State itself cuts support for these events…”
Despite the reduction in support – and the fact that this year’s Portugal Masters is not on the DP World Tour calendar – Miguel Franco de Sousa said that the Portuguese Golf Federation has made a point of ensuring that the Portugal Open is held, “regardless of whether it jeopardises the financial sustainability of the event.
“We think it’s an extremely important event, not only for the promotion of tourism in the country in general and in the Óbidos region in particular, but also from a sporting point of view, as it allows us to have a significant number of Portuguese competing here and to have a number of wild cards, which we manage to exchange throughout the year, so that Portuguese golfers can compete regularly in international tournaments abroad,” he added.
The main concern remains, however, ‘what is the government thinking’ in terms of the consequences of its lack of support
“Because if we look at all the economic activity that works around golf, in which it brings foreign residents to live in Portugal, who buy quality property at high prices, which boosts the tourism sector and the tourism economy, this narrow view that exists, and the criteria for supporting events, is really strange. Of course I’m defending golf, but I believe it’s probably the sport that has the greatest economic weight in our nation’s tourism,” he stressed.
The 61st Portuguese Open begins today, and continues until Sunday at the Royal Óbidos Spa & Golf Resort. There are 144 players competing, including Portugal’s Ricardo Melo Gouveia, Ricardo Santos, Tomás Bessa, Tomás Melo Gouveia, Pedro Lencart, João Pinto Basto and Vítor Lopes.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of State for Youth and Sport (SEJD) has clarified that the IPDJ is supporting the event with €52,500.
Without specifying the amount of aid for the event that was granted in 2022, the SEJD also added that “the funding for regular activities (of the Portuguese Golf Federation) is €344,500”.