Serie A tapping facial recognition for racism battle

Serie A tapping facial recognition for racism battle
The organiser of Italian top-flight soccer is developing a facial recognition system in order to identify fans guilty of racist behavior at Serie A games, the league has confirmed.

Serie A has been blighted by multiple incidents of racism this season, with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Miralem Pjanic, Mario Ballotelli and Kalidou Koulibaly all targeted by xenophobic chants.

In a bid to combat the issue, Serie A Chief Executive Luigi De Siervo has confirmed the league is working on using facial recognition technology in stadia, with advanced listening devices used in anti-terrorism operations also being considered.

“We’re still awaiting authorisation from privacy authorities,” said De Siervo. “We should be able to get that with the help of the government. Once those images are available, clubs will have to intervene directly.

“We’re going to do in two years what (former British prime minister Margaret) Thatcher did in ten.”

The public deployment of such high-level surveillance technology would mark a first for one of Europe’s top soccer leagues. In the summer, Danish top-flight club Brondby confirmed they were using automated facial recognition (AFR) at their stadium to identify people banned from attending games and, at the time, were the only club in Europe doing so.

Serie A is also enlisting one player from each of the 20 top-flight clubs to join an anti-racism team as it seeks to find a solution to its racism problem.

Elsewhere in Italian soccer, broadcaster Mediapro has confirmed a pause in negotiations with Serie A regarding a potential new in-house broadcast network. The Spanish media company said it will not resume talks until the league’s new president has been elected and stable governance is guaranteed.

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