Cyprus Mail

Controversial fan card delayed beyond early-2015 deadline

Football hooligan armed with a flare (CM archives)

By George Psyllides

MPs have concluded that a controversial identity card for sports fans cannot be ready by the January 1, 2015 deadline because the organisation responsible did not have the necessary infrastructure for the job.

An additional hindrance was the view of the personal data commissioner who said the policy violated the principle of proportionality.

The fan card, an identity card aimed at lifting anonymity of sports fans, was voted in August as a part of a bill proposed by the government to clamp down on hooliganism.

House Legal Affairs committee Chairman Soteris Sampson said it was impossible for the sports organisation (CSO) to put the necessary systems in place before the deadline since a tender process had to be launched.

Beyond the technical issues, personal data commissioner Yiannos Danielides suggested that the measure would violate the principle of proportionality since the trouble was usually caused by a small group of 50 to 100 people and not the vast majority of fans.

Danielides proposed initially issuing the card to individuals between the ages of 15 and 30 and move to other age groups if necessary.

The task of issuing the card was given to the CSO, which in turn asked the football association to take over because it lacked the funds.

However, that decision was rescinded following strong protests by fans and main opposition AKEL, which cited privacy concerns.

The party said the problems were the result of submitting a bill without prior dialogue.

MP Aristos Damianou blamed Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou who had also wanted the measure to be rolled out immediately after it was approved in August. It was parliament that set the January deadline.

AKEL opposes the measure mainly because it would allow authorities to keep tabs on fans.

Organised fans of all major football clubs oppose the fan card for the same reason.

Damianou said the arrangement must be between the fan and the club, which will be liable.

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