By Constantinos Psillides
THE Cyprus Football Association (CFA) will be taking over from the Cyprus Sports Organisation (CSO) on the issue of the fan card.
The decision was made on Thursday night at a meeting of the two, which concluded that CSO couldn’t cope with the financial aspects of its implementation.
Opposition political parties had expressed fears over personal data protection, even going as far as to accuse police of trying to indirectly keep tabs on fans.
They insisted on the CSO handling the project – an identity card without which no one will be allowed to buy a ticket to any sporting event- since the CFA is a private organisation run by representatives of the football teams. The CSO on the other hand is a semi-government organisation and under the scrutiny of the Auditor-general.
The competent authority will also have to pay for the installation of CCTV cameras and face-recognition systems in all stadiums used by a top league football team, along with a card reader to verify that the owner of the fan card can be allowed in the grounds. The estimated cost is around €2 million, which the CSO can’t cover.
Kleanthis Georgiades, deputy head of CSO, told the Cyprus Mail that the organisation delegated authority to the CFA so the legislation could be implemented by January 1, 2015, as it was originally declared by the government.
“If we took it up on ourselves to cover the cost, it would take forever. Our annual budget doesn’t include this expense so we would have to draft a request for additional budget, take it to the finance ministry and then have it approved. That would take us up to the end of October. Then and only then we would be in position to open a tender process for the equipment. I can assure you that it would take us the better part of the football season to do that,” said Georgiades. He said the CSO has included a clause stipulating that the organisation must be involved in every decision CFA makes.
“We would be informed on the tender process, on the expected cost, everything. Anything that has to do with the fans card CFA has to run by us to ensure transparency.”
Besides jurisdictional problems, the CFA will also have to deal with infrastructure issues. According to Georgiades, currently only three stadiums have efficient CCTV systems in place, which is a requirement for the face-recognition software.
The CSO deputy-head clarified that even if the face-recognition software and the card-readers were not up and running by January 2015, fans would still have to produce a fan card to purchase tickets to any sporting event and to be allowed in the grounds.