I am involved in maintaining few sports statistics systems. Of course, these systems are full of personal data. It is important to keep a list of players in a hockey game and a name associated with a result in a running event. Even more - the date of birth is also important in many cases.

Currently databases store and publicly display all of this information. Here you have a few examples:

https://www.iaaf.org/records/by-category/u18-world-best-performance http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=8627

Can this still be justified under GDPR or will databases have to hunt the people one by one and ask for their consent?

  • It doesn't impact me that much, but I also wonder what about the data in wikipedia and the already published personal data in news articles etc. Will news portals have to go through their articles and purge those of names?
    – Džuris
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 10:25

2 Answers 2


Consent of the data subject is only one of several conditions that allow the processing of personal data; these are found at Article 6(1) of Regulation 2016/679. The last, item (f), is also of interest:

Article 6

Lawfulness of processing

  1. Processing shall be lawful only if and to the extent that at least one of the following applies:

(a) the data subject has given consent to the processing of his or her personal data for one or more specific purposes;

(b) processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is party or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract;

(c) processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject;

(d) processing is necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject or of another natural person;

(e) processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller;

(f) processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection of personal data, in particular where the data subject is a child.

Point (f) of the first subparagraph shall not apply to processing carried out by public authorities in the performance of their tasks.

Most sports statistics systems maintain identifying data for legitimate purposes pursued by the systems' owners. Since the data in question are already publicly available, and in many cases are made public by the athletes in the course of their lives as public figures, it is unlikely that a court would find that the athletes' interests or fundamental rights and freedoms override the interests of the systems' owners in processing the data.

  • Facebook selling ads is an entirely legitimate purpose, but that doesn't mean they can use point (f) to simply bypass the GDPR.
    – MSalters
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 10:08
  • 2
    @MSalters of course. That's why point (f) contains the subjective condition "except where such interests are overridden by the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection of personal data." Since it's subjective, judges can reach different conclusions in different circumstances. The assertion that judges would most likely find it okay to process publicly available data of public figures for a reference site does not imply that they would find the same for processing users' private data for raising advertising revenue.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 20:43
  • This answers if such processing could be justified under (f). However if the processing falls under the GDPR, then lots of other rules apply, the need to inform the data subject under Article 14 for example.
    – User65535
    Commented May 20 at 9:00
  • @User65535 If it's professional sports, there's probably disclosure and consent in their employment contracts.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 21 at 17:12

It's helpful here to start with two extremes here. On the one hand, you have professional athletes competing in organized events with thousands of spectators. Anything that happens here is publicly known by definition. On the other hand, you have amateur athletes competing purely for their own sake.

The GDPR absolutely protects the latter. You can't just publicize the players in some amateur hockey league. For professional hockey players, like the ones you linked to, that would be allowed. But it's limited to relevant information. Date of Birth? It sounds unlikely to me that there is a sufficient justification to publish that. Even where the League has a "minimal age" restriction, the only thing you'd be allowed to publicly share would be that yes, this player is indeed at least that old.

  • This is a good answer, but I disagree with your assertion about date of birth. Records are kept about the youngest and oldest players to do any given thing, with the ages generally expressed in years and days, and part of the interest in tracking player statistics is tracking the evolution of players' careers as they mature into their prime and age out of it. Players' dates of birth are trivially easy to find, at least at the top professional levels. The distinction between those levels and amateurs, however, is very well made.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 20:50
  • @phoog: It may be current practice to keep such records, but that is not a legally recognized exception.
    – MSalters
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 6:58
  • The assertion that it is "not a legally recognized exception" does not imply that it is not in fact an exception. That is, the absence of recognition of applicability is not a recognition of inapplicability. It would be more precise to say that no judge has ruled on whether such recordkeeping falls under (f) -- if that is true. But if no judge has ruled on the practice, then it's also entirely possible that it does fall under (f), and the question is one on which people may disagree.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 14:38
  • You would often publish height and weight and academic class year and school of attendance for amateur contact sports.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented May 20 at 18:14

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