COVID-19: Key data protection considerations for readmitting fans to sports stadiums

COVID-19: Key data protection considerations for readmitting fans to sports stadiums
Thursday, 17 December 2020 By Isabella Hislop

With the recent UK government announcement that some stadiums can admit up to 4000 fans[1], most of us will still be watching our teams from the sofa. Memories of being crammed together, cheering our team, no face masks in sight seem like a distant memory now. And with much of the world still in the throes of COVID-19, we can be forgiven for wondering when we’re going to return to how things were. To get to where both fans and the government are comfortable with a return to stadiums, a raft of changes will have to be made to the matchday experience. Practical adjustments aside, prospective COVID-19 measures are likely to bring with them a host of data protection-related headaches for organisers.

In this article, the author will explore the following potential stadium COVID-19 measures, balancing several disease prevention considerations with the relevant data protection implications:

  1. Facial recognition technology for ticketing;
  2. Drones for crowd management; and
  3. Information dissemination about matchday staff.

Clubs, event organisers and stadiums will need to make sure their proposed COVID-19 related solutions are not in breach of the relevant data protection laws[2]. In addition to steering clear of fines, clubs will be conscious that the price of reputation management could outweigh a penalty from the relevant regulatory body. While clubs will urgently want to return to matchdays (as significant sources of revenue), they will be very conscious of the need to implement stringent measures to avoid  becoming the venue of  an unruly COVID-19 outbreak; clubs will be keen to implement efficient ways of ensuring fans don’t contract the virus whilst being able to enjoy a match day experience and support their team.

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About the Author

Isabella Hislop

Isabella Hislop

Isabella Hislop is a commercial legal counsel at Expo 2020 Dubai. She has significant experience in sports and live events, specialising in the negotiation and implementation of international sponsorship, ticketing, licensing and broadcast agreements. Isabella has strong technology regulatory experience, having advised on several global data protection projects. With a background in media, entertainment and sports, Isabella also advises on a broad range of commercial matters, including advertising and marketing for leading sports brands, high profile endorsements, and rights protection and acquisition work. Isabella is a keen sportswoman, with her sights set on competing for her country in the FINA World Masters Championships.

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