The House legal affairs will reassess the football fan card in a meeting next month after first division clubs complained that this had led to a 30 per cent decrease in ticket sales, it was announced on Wednesday.
The fan card, aimed at cracking down on hooliganism, was introduced last August following a long discussion in parliament and football clubs mainly on concerns of violation of personal data, as its holders had to provide some details such as identity card number and address. It was opposed by fan clubs of all major football clubs, citing concerns that police would use the data to keep tabs on them.
Admittance to any sports venue as of last August is granted only to those possessing the card. President Nicos Anastasiades too had his own fan card issued so that he could watch his favourite football club’s matches.
But following a recent letter by six first division football clubs to Anastasiades, that the introduction of the fan card has led to a “dramatic reduction” in ticket sales to the tune of 30 per cent, main opposition Akel asked for the matter to be discussed in parliament.
The letter was signed by Apoel, Omonia, AEL, Nea Salamina, Doxa and Alki.
Akel MP, Aristos Damianou, said on Wednesday that the House legal affairs committee should assess not only the fan card but also a series of other measures provided in the law for tackling violence.
“We understand that the government is now discussing going back to the original suggestion for transferring the fan card registry to the clubs,” he said.
At the moment, the registry of sports fans is kept by the Cyprus Sports Organisation (KOA) and access to it is restricted to an authorised data officer, the chairman and the general secretary of the organisation.
In his reply to the football clubs’ letter this week, Anastasiades said he continues to support the fan card but that he was open to a law amendment giving the clubs the right to manage the fans’ registry. This was the original proposal of the government but was turned down by the clubs.
He said that the necessary safeguards for the protection of personal data should be put in place so that it will not possible for anyone to interfere with or alter the registry, to which the police should have direct access in the case of violence during matches.
Anastasiades’ letter said that if parliamentary parties and football clubs were on board, his government was ready to table a bill to amend the law.