Serie A CEO calls for league-wide facial recognition tech

Featured image credit: Matteo.favi/CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED/Edited for size

Lega Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo has detailed plans for all top-tier stadiums in Italy to be fitted with facial recognition technology to combat racism.

De Siervo has been speaking after AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan was racially abused during an away match at Udinese at the weekend.

Udinese announced yesterday (Monday) that one fan had been banned from the stadium with immediate effect, and it emerged today that the club will play a match behind closed doors as punishment.

“The plan is to equip the stadiums of all the teams registered in Serie A with video surveillance systems capable of scanning the faces of those entering the stadium at the entrance, associating them with the personal data present in the nominal tickets, so as to immediately trace the identity of fans who engage in racial discrimination,” De Siervo said in an interview with Il Corriere della Sera. 

“The data would be collected by the clubs, but made available to the police.”

The league hopes to approve the rollout of facial recognition technology by the end of the season, but De Siervo said the project will come with significant costs.

He added: “I hope to be able to discuss it as soon as possible, perhaps even at our meeting on Friday. The league has already done a feasibility study and we are ready to go. The approval of the presidents and the approval of the relevant budget are needed.”

Udinese’s Bluenergy Stadium (pictured) previously trialled facial recognition technology at the final of the UEFA U21 European Championships back in 2019. Following Saturday’s incident, Udinese is now set to play one match without fans.

The club said it worked closely with the authorities and studied its stadium camera footage to identify the supporter who abused Maignan. Udinese has banned the fan with immediate effect for an indefinite period of time.

Following the incident, the match was stopped and Maignan and his Milan teammates left the pitch. The game resumed 10 minutes later, with Milan winning 3-2.