Football club publishes pictures of hooligans

A football club is not allowed to publish photographs of individuals setting off firecrackers on its website, nor may it appeal to those visiting the site to provide any related information on the persons shown in the photographs. Tracking down offenders is the exclusive task of the police, providing that all the necessary conditions have been fulfilled.

A football club published photographs of two persons on its website and asked visitors to send in by email any information they might have of the individuals in question (one of the persons was suspected of having thrown firecrackers, and the other of assisting him). The men were identified very quickly and their pictures were then removed.

We informed the football club that they were not authorised to publish such photographs. In our view, a publication of this nature is not justified within the meaning of the Data Protection Act, as the consent of the persons concerned had not been obtained, there was no overriding private or public interest, and there is no law covering such cases. What the football club should have done is to report the case to the police and hand over the photographs. It would then be up to the police to check whether the conditions for publishing the photographs on their own website had been met. This was done, for example, by the Zurich municipal police as part of an official manhunt.