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Universidad Católica stages biometric technology trial, targets for new stadium

Featured image credit: Universidad Católica

Featured image credit: Universidad Católica

Chilean Primera División football club Universidad Católica (UC) has completed a trial of biometric access technology, stating the results of the venture mean it could be introduced at its new stadium.

UC hosted the second phase of the Chilean Football Association’s (ANFP) wider trial of the technology, which it is conducting with Spanish company Veridas. It was carried out during Sunday’s 1-0 Primera División win over Magallanes at Estadio Santa Laura, UC’s temporary home whilst its new stadium is being developed.

The pilot allowed access control with facial recognition to be carried out on more than 200 accredited people who participated in the trial. Juan Pablo Pareja, general director of Universidad Católica, said: “We are very satisfied with the performance of this pilot. It is a demo with the Spanish company Veridas, which we are evaluating for biometric controls in the future stadium. We are trying to share information with the ANFP… that allows us to improve the access experience on match days and grants more control at the security level.

“A few years ago we made a large investment in security. We are the only stadium in Chile that has world-class turnstiles from the Sky Data brand. We are studying incorporating it (biometric technology) into the turnstile systems.

“We want to continue improving the stadium experience. Entry is a critical moment, the faster it is, the better the general operation of the venue. There are other elements that point to security when it comes to avoiding identity theft. 

“We know that there are people who, having an access ban, violate it by using a false identity or modifying identity cards. The existing systems are vulnerable, facial biometrics are not infallible, but fraud percentages drop substantially. It also allows us to capture information from people that we can target post-event if they commit misconduct within the stadium.”

The biometric technology trial is part of efforts by the ANFP to complete a National Fan Registry project. The first phase of the trial was held in June for Chile’s friendly games against Cuba and the Dominican Republic at Estadio Municipal de Concepción and Estadio Sausalito, respectively.

The third test will be held for Chile’s 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Peru on October 12 at Estadio Monumental.

Elsewhere in South America, the São Paulo Public Security Secretariat (SSP) this week revealed that facial recognition technology at Allianz Parque, home of football club Palmeiras, had helped arrest 28 criminals at four matches.

Palmeiras rolled out facial recognition technology at Allianz Parque back in May in an effort to speed up access to the stadium and also combat ticket touting. Palmeiras stated that it was the first club in world football to implement a 100% facial biometric system for stadium access.

UC recently detailed plans to build the country’s first 100% sustainable sports venue after agreeing a wide-ranging deal with energy company Enel. UC played its final match at the Estadio San Carlos de Apoquindo last August. The new stadium is being built on the site of the old ground.

It will seat 20,000 fans and include covered two-tiered stands, new service areas and “high standards” of comfort and safety. Spanish firm IDOM has been engaged to design the new-look stadium, which once redeveloped will include a new roof and more corporate boxes and VIP areas in an effort to create a modern, multi-purpose venue.