Hundreds of professional footballers have threatened legal action against major gaming, betting and sports data companies over the allegedly unlawful use of personal information and performance statistics, which could lead to a shakeup of a multibillion-pound industry.
“Project Red Card” is being led by the former Cardiff manager Russell Slade and includes more than 850 players demanding compensation for the trading of their data.
Current and former Premier League, English Football League, National League and Scottish Premiership players, as well as managers, are involved. Slade’s legal team assert the fact players receive no payment for the unlicensed use of their data contravenes General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules strengthened in 2018. It is understood “letters before action” have been sent to 17 major firms, alleging data misuse.
The players argue leading companies are profiting from their personal data. Under Article 4 of the GDPR, “personal data” refers to a range of identifiable information, such as physical attributes or physiological information. Slade said the data used is sometimes inaccurate and that although that could be seen as trivial, such information can have damaging ramifications for players. Whether Global Sports Data and Technology (GSDT), which Slade part-owns, is successful will likely hinge on determining who owns the data.
The players are aiming to recover lost income stretching back six years, as per the statute of limitations in British law. If successful, it is thought payouts could run into the tens of thousands of pounds per person. Slade said it was time for companies to pay for the use of such data, after a period of “arrogance and ignorance”. GSDT is adamant the use of such data is not covered by image rights.
“We are very confident that we can win any case, if it actually goes to court,” Slade said. “What we would rather do is talk and resolve the matter with these companies that are collecting the data, processing the data and using it without the players’ consent. I want to bring it to the attention of everybody and solve it going forward so the control goes back to the players, so we know that data that is going out is accurate and correct, and a fair reflection of the individual.”