Soccer Players

Footballers seek compensation for ‘GDPR violating’ performance data trading

Letter threatening legal action against 17 firms that use trade player data claims the practice violates EU data protection law
Image: Pixabay

12 October 2021

Hundreds of football players have threatened to take legal action against companies that use their performance data, claiming this practice is in violation of GDPR.

Some 850 players, led by former Leyton Orient manager Russell Slade, have demanded compensation for the trading of their data over the past six years, according to the BBC.

The data is a mixture of statistics, such as goals-per-game and physical information like a player’s height, all of which is being harvested and used by 17 unnamed data collection, betting and entertainment firms, according to letters sent by Slade and the players.




Slade has previously expressed concern around the collection of performance data, and his legal team said the fact players do not receive payment for the unlicensed use of their data is actually in violation of GDPR. This could fall under Article 4 of the legislation where ‘personal data’ refers to a range of identifiable information, such as physical attributes, location data or physiological information.

Although the letter has been sent to an initial 17 firms, Slade’s Global Sports Data and Technology Group has actually highlighted more than 150 companies it believes have misused this type of data. If legal action is taken and the group is successful, it could herald sweeping changes for a multi-billion euro industry.

Slade’s work here seems mostly for the benefit of lower league players – those outside of the lucrative Premier League – with the practice potentially affecting both the men’s and women’s game.

“It’s incredible where it’s used,” Slade told the BBC. “On one player, and I’m not talking about a Premier League player or even a Championship player, there were some 7,000 pieces of information on one individual player at a lower league football club.

“There are companies that are taking that data and processing that data without the individual consent of that player. A big part of our journey has been looking at that ecosystem and plotting out where that data starts, who are processing it, where it finishes and that’s a real global thing. It’s making football – and all sports – aware of the implications and what needs to change.”

© Dennis Publishing

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