By Iain Rogers
MADRID, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Spain's sports federations, already suffering due to a series of reductions in state subsidies, are facing a new round of hefty cuts forced on the government by the economic crisis, Secretary of State Miguel Cardenal said on Friday.
Many of the Iberian nation's smaller federations who found it hard to attract commercial sponsors relied heavily on public money and, with less cash available, performance and results were bound to be affected over the longer term, Cardenal said in an interview at his office in Madrid.
The 44-year-old, a specialist in labour, social security and sports law, was speaking to Reuters after a meeting with federation presidents on Thursday where he made plain the need to rein in spending.
"Subsidies have already seen a very significant reduction in recent years and this is affecting the activities of the federations," said Cardenal, appointed last year following the election victory of the centre-right People's Party (PP).
"You don't notice the impact in the short term but if this economic situation continues for a prolonged amount of time it's very likely that you will see the effect in some areas," he added.
"We are going to change the criteria for distributing subsidies completely and in practically all cases there are going to be very big reductions."
Cardenal was reluctant to put a figure on the size of the cuts but said some federations could lose almost all their funding, while others might see a slight increase.
Spanish media have reported the reductions will amount to at least 40 percent of the total and Cardenal said "it could be around that amount or it could be less".
Relatively wealthy federations such as soccer and basketball, who have a host of corporate sponsors, will not be much affected by the latest measures.
The soccer federation, flush with cash thanks to Spain's impressive run of success, forewent its latest subsidy of around three million euros ($3.87 million), which represented only three percent of its total budget of just over 100 million euros.
By contrast, public funds accounted for 46 percent of the athletics federation's budget last year and more than 50 percent of the budgets for cycling and swimming.
Spanish track and field athletes have performed particularly poorly in recent years and failed to win a single Olympic medal in Beijing four years ago or in London this year.
The total amount of state subsidies paid to sports federations in 2011 fell to 77.475 million euros, roughly the level of 2008, after rising to 82 million in 2009, according to government data.
Despite the parlous state of the economy, with rising unemployment and painful austerity measures including tax hikes and pay cuts for public-sector workers, Spain was pushing ahead with Madrid's bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, Cardenal said.
A large proportion of the investment that would be needed had already been made as part of the city's failed efforts to win the right to host the 2012 and 2016 summer Games, he added.
"If we thought that the money we are investing in Madrid 2020 was not affordable for the country we would without any doubt withdraw our candidacy," he said.
"At a time when Spaniards are being asked to make such significant sacrifices nobody would think about investing in something that was not deemed to be productive.
"We want the Games because we love sport and we believe in the Olympic movement but also because we think that economically it's an opportunity for Madrid and the country and it will bring a good deal more financial benefit than cost.
"If we thought otherwise we would not have bid."
Cardenal said he was confident the Spanish economy would pick up and the country would soon be able to put the financial crisis behind it.
"There are eight years until 2020 and nobody believes the current economic situation in Spain will remain as it is for that long," he said.
"I have the absolute conviction, and we are taking very tough measures to ensure this happens, that we will come out of this situation." ($1 = 0.7748 euros) (Editing by Clare Fallon)