Serie A developing facial recognition tech to combat racism

FILE - In this Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 filer, Brescia's Mario Balotelli, center, walks on the pitch during the Serie A soccer match between Brescia and Torino at the Mario Rigamonti Stadium in Brescia, Italy. Three leaders of the extreme-right Forza Nuova political party have been stopped by police for putting up a racist banner aimed at Brescia striker Mario Balotelli. The banner, which read “Mario you’re right, you’re an African,” was posted on a fence outside Juventus’ Allianz Stadium in Turin last month. The words “Mario” and “African” were written in red with the other words in black. The banner also featured a logo for the neo-fascist Forza Nuova party. (Filippo Venezia/ANSA via AP, File)
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Italian league officials are developing a system of facial recognition technology to identify fans responsible for racist chants, Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo announced on Monday.

The announcement comes amid an Italian season marred by discriminatory behavior.

“We’re working on facial recognition software to use inside the stadiums,” De Siervo said on Monday as he unveiled anti-racism initiatives by the league.

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

Racist chants have been aimed at Romelu Lukaku, Franck Kessie, Dalbert Henrique, Miralem Pjanic, Ronaldo Vieira, Kalidou Koulibaly and Mario Balotelli. All of the players targeted — except for Pjanic, who is Bosnian — are black.

The league also nominated one player from each of the 20 clubs to join an anti-racism team.

“We’re going to do in two years what (former British prime minister Margaret) Thatcher did in 10,” De Siervo said, referring to the battle against hooliganism in English stadiums in the 1980s.

This season, the Italian soccer federation said it was considering employing advanced listening devices used in anti-terrorism operations to identify offending fans.q