Thousands of football fans may have been secretly investigated by the Premier League‘s ‘Stasi spy agency’ for their political views, a free speech campaigner warned today.
Newcastle supporter Linzi Smith, 34, was the subject of a four-month investigation by a special unit set up to expose hate speech in the game after a series of posts about trans issues on X.
Newcastle began investigating Ms Smith after receiving a complaint. They then wrote to her in November saying she was banned until 2026 for breaching the club’s equality policy, which forbids ‘discriminatory’ comments.
A friend put her in touch with a campaigner, who urged her to submit a subject access request to Newcastle United. This revealed she was the subject of a 11-page ‘Stasi’ dossier entitled Online Investigation and Target Profile – Linzi Smith.
The document had been compiled by the Premier League’s investigation unit, which was set up in 2019 to monitor abuse directed at players. It does not have a name but works towards the league’s stated aim to ‘challenge and prevent discrimination, harassment and abuse’.
Ms Smith’s case has now been taken on by the Free Speech Union, whose director – Toby Young – warned many more fans may have been targeted with similar investigations.
He told MailOnline: ‘We think it’s possible that hundreds of fans, possibly thousands, are being monitored in a similar way by the Premier League’s intelligence unit.
‘That’s why the Free Speech Union is encouraging people to submit Subject Access Requests to the Premiership club they support and the Premier League to find out if there’s a file on them.’