New data reg­u­la­tions will be a game-changer for sport

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - RACING -

WHETHER sport is ready or not, Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion (GDPR) is com­ing this May. This will im­pact all lev­els of sport from grass­roots clubs and pro­fes­sional teams to gov­ern­ing bod­ies — ba­si­cally any or­gan­i­sa­tion that has fans, mem­bers and ath­letes.

These or­gan­i­sa­tions, vol­un­teer or oth­er­wise, all hold per­sonal data re­lat­ing to play­ers, fans/cus­tomers, em­ploy­ees and vol­un­teers. It is im­por­tant that they have pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures in place gov­ern­ing the use of that data and the ac­cess to it.

One key area of GDPR is the trans­fer of data. Re­ferred to as data porta­bil­ity, it is one of the eight rights of ‘data sub­jects’, or the fans, play­ers, staff and vol­un­teers of a sports club, and en­forced by the GDPR leg­is­la­tion. It al­lows data sub­jects to re­quest their data be made avail­able to any­one they re­quest, in­clud­ing them­selves.

The sec­ond part of this, the right for an­other con­troller (sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion) to re­quest ac­cess is an area that could im­pact the fu­ture of the sport in the same way that the Bos­man Rul­ing in 1995 changed pro­fes­sional foot­ball as we know it. Here is what Ar­ti­cle 20 of GDPR states: “The data sub­ject shall have the right to re­ceive the per­sonal data con­cern­ing him or her, which he or she has pro­vided to a con­troller and have the right to trans­mit those data to an­other con­troller with­out hin­drance.”

Ac­cord­ing to data an­a­lyt­ics ex­pert Fiona Green, this is a cru­cial area and one sports bod­ies, clubs and teams need to be aware of. “For many rights own­ers, the is­sue of porta­bil­ity won’t have a huge im­pact — there aren’t many oc­ca­sions in sport when an in­di­vid­ual will re­quest that their in­for­ma­tion is made avail­able for an­other party to col­lect it,” she says. “How­ever, the area I believe will cause the most con­cern is data re­lated to a player’s per­for­mance.”

Green is the founder of Win­ners and has 30 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence op­er­at­ing in the pro­fes­sional sports in­dus­try rep­re­sent­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty for rights hold­ers in­clud­ing FIFA and UEFA. She has worked with clubs and bod­ies to en­sure that they un­der­stand the im­pact that GDPR will have on their abil­ity to be­come data-driven or­gan­i­sa­tions and to en­sure they are com­pli­ant with the leg­is­la­tion.

Things get more in­ter­est­ing as you delve into the guide­lines with per­sonal data re­ferred in the doc­u­men­ta­tion as in­for­ma­tion that “re­lates to the data sub­ject’s ac­tiv­ity or re­sults from the ob­ser­va­tion of an in­di­vid­ual’s be­hav­iour”.

“Sports clubs col­lect huge amounts of data on their play­ers, GPS, fit­ness, psy­cho­log­i­cal, diet data and much more,” adds Green. “So how much of this data does a player have the right to take with them when they trans­fer from one club to an­other? For ex­am­ple, if an Ir­ish rugby player de­cides to leave Ire­land for France, how much of their bio­met­rics and other train­ing data will they be al­lowed to ac­cess?”

If this is the case then that data, along with the ob­vi­ous player insight, could re­veal the sys­tems used to man­age, col­late and process that in­for­ma­tion. This could in­deed change the trans­fer game as we know it. Will clubs be ex­tra-mo­ti­vated to move for play­ers in the knowl­edge that they ac­quire po­ten­tial game-chang­ing in­for­ma­tion from their ri­vals? Will this ac­qui­si­tion of data be used to shape the in-house tal­ent-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion process for clubs and or­gan­i­sa­tions? While there are com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages to be gained from the ap­pli­ca­tion of GDPR in elite and pro­fes­sional sport, the im­pact on am­a­teur sport will be felt in a dif­fer­ent way.

The GDPR in the UK and Ire­land ac­tu­ally soft­ens the ex­ist­ing data-us­age guide­lines al­low­ing those aged 13 to legally hand over data and per­mis­sion to use and process it with­out the ex­plicit ap­proval of a par­ent or guardian.

Clubs will be re­quired to put ad­e­quate sys­tems in place to ver­ify in­di­vid­ual ages of mem­bers/play­ers and gather and store con­sent from mem­bers and guardians. Con­sent needs to be ver­i­fi­able and there­fore com­mu­ni­cated to un­der­age mem­bers in plain and sim­ple lan­guage.

Ac­cord­ing to Green, “GDPR is a com­plex law and the topic of data porta­bil­ity is just one as­pect. It is im­por­tant that sport­ing bod­ies and or­gan­i­sa­tions read and un­der­stand the guide­lines but as many of the ar­eas are ‘grey’, clubs will be re­ly­ing on case law be­fore we un­der­stand the full im­pli­ca­tions.”

While clubs are al­ready wor­ried about the im­pact of GDPR, the fact that case law will po­ten­tially form the ba­sis for how the guide­lines are ap­plied adds ad­di­tional lay­ers of worry not yet fully un­der­stood.

While the im­pact of GDPR on sport is yet to be felt, pro­fes­sional and am­a­teur clubs need to quickly em­brace this change and put ad­e­quate pro­cesses in place to avoid breach­ing the new rules. How­ever anx­ious clubs are, the fu­ture use of mi­nors’ data will be a cause of se­ri­ous con­cern for par­ents and guardians.

Clubs will be re­quired to put ad­e­quate sys­tems in place

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