Justice Minister Giorgos Savvides said on Wednesday the institution of the fan card has been very successful and has helped curb violence at football games.
Aimed primarily at tackling hooliganism, the fan card was introduced in August 2018 following a long discussion in parliament and football clubs which voiced concerns over violation of personal data, as its holders have to provide some details such as photo, identity number and address to have it issued.
It was opposed by the fan clubs of all major football teams, citing concerns that police would use the data to keep tabs on them.
Admission to any sports venue as of last August is granted only to those possessing the card. Since its introduction, there has been hardly any trouble, despite the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) claiming that it has caused a reduction in ticket sales.
“The fan card is working and it’s here to stay,” Savvides said. “Compared to last year, not only there have been fewer incidents at stadiums around the country, the number of fans attending football games has also increased by 44 per cent, a sign that people feel safer during matches now.”
Some 104,000 cards have been issued so far and “even the most suspicious fans have now understood that the measure taken was a good one and there is no reason to scrap it or to change it,” Savvides said.
“A few years ago, we were worried that people might get physically injured during games, now we are punishing people for lighting flares at the stadium. This is a sign that our mentality has changed and that we value safety.”
He said that most political parties were completely against the abolition of the fan card.
“In fact, President Anastasiades has repeatedly confirmed that the card is here to stay, there is no way it will be either abolished, nor amended,” he said.
“The people who think the fan card is an issue, rather than a helping tool, are only doing harm to their own teams at a time when our football is at a crucial point and needs the fans’ help.”