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Cyprus

Proposal tabled to allow clubs to issue fan ID cards

Lawmakers on Wednesday began discussing a bill that would have individual sports clubs – rather than the local sports governing body – issue ID fan cards.

The legislative proposal, tabled by Edek MP Costis Efstathiou, would move the issuance of the sports ID card from the Cyprus Sports Organisation (CSO) to the sports clubs.

It would require amending the law regarding the prevention and containment of violence in sports grounds.

Justice Minister Stefi Drakou said she was not against the idea, provided that the changes do not impact the core philosophy relating to the fan card.

In parliament, representatives of sports teams and organised fan clubs expressed their opposition to the fan card in its current iteration, claiming that it has “failed.”

Launched in 2018, the sports ID card is a registry of fans wanting to attend football matches, introduced in a bid to cut down on football hooliganism.

The card is a photo identity card and is linked to an account that registers the purchased tickets. Entry to a match is not allowed without a sports ID.

Critics of the fan card cited a number of problems from its application so far – including leaks of personal data, the non-reduction of incidents of violence, and also that most violence tends to happen outside sports grounds.

They told MPs they are opposed to the CSO maintaining a registry of fans.

To date, some 130,000 such cards have been issued.

A CSO rep denied that any data leaks from their registry. Chiming in, Commissioner for Personal Data Protection Irini Loizidou-Nicolaidou likewise said that an investigation did not find any such evidence.

For his part, deputy police chief Demetris Demetriou noted that since the fan card’s introduction, there has been a marked drop in violent incidents and injuries at sports grounds, as well as a decline in arrests.

Fivos Constantinides, general manager of the GSP stadium, suggested changes that would allow clubs to keep registries of their fans.

He cited as an example Russia, where possessing a fan card entitles one to certain privileges and bonuses.

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