It should come as no surprise to any football fan with even a passing contempt for the game’s governing body that FIFA have yet again dropped a sizeable bollock, a bollock that stands a very good chance of ruining many innocent supporters’ lives.
News has broken this morning that a database containing the personal details of hundreds-of-thousands of football fans that purchased World Cup tickets through official FIFA-sanctioned outlets has been stolen and incrementally sold on.
The information has been passing hands for as much as £500,000, and is said to contain the passport details and birth dates of nearly 250,000 football fans that attended games at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
It is also thought that sensitive data regarding many of the participating country’s V.I.Ps, players and their respective entourages may have been purchased with the intention of extortion, fraud or identity theft.
The stolen database was compiled by FIFA before the 2006 tournament and should have been deleted shortly after in conjunction with international laws which govern the exchange of sensitive information – laws to which FIFA apparently did not adhere.
The data contains details of more than 35,000 England fans, nearly 50,000 Scandinavian supporters (including the details of former Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson), nearly 20,000 Americans, 36,000 Swiss, 42,000 Portuguese, 36,000 Dutch fans and thousands more supporters from Poland, Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Croatia.
Worldwide investigations have been launched to try and ascertain just who has been purchasing the information, amidst fears that it could have been purchased by organised criminal gangs or even terrorist groups.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK data watchdog, has launched a parallel inquiry which also aims to determine whether fans who travelled to this summer’s World Cup in South Africa are at risk.
The Head of the ICO, Mick Gorill, released a statement yesterday to confirm the breadth of the situation;
“We have been made aware that the personal details of some 35,689 England fans have been unlawfully traded for profit. The information relates to fans who bought tickets for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
We have contacted FIFA regarding the allegations and will be liaising with the organisation further as we move forward with an investigation.
‘The unlawful trade in people’s personal information is a criminal offence under the Data Protection Act. We have launched a full investigation. As part of our investigation we will be working together with international data protection authorities.
We expect to be able to provide more details as our investigation develops, including advice for those who believe that their details may have been involved in this incident.”
FIFA have unsurprisingly declined to make a formal comment, only raising their heads above the parapet to confirm that they are ‘currently investigating the situation’.
It has been alleged that an employee of a ticketing agency may have been responsible for the data breach by putting the information up for sale on the ‘black market’.
After some in-depth enquiries with the relevant authorities, Soccerlens can confirm that former ITV pundit Robbie Earle is not being considered as a potential suspect.