AAMI Park to implement facial recognition technology to improve match day safety

AAMI Park Security at Victory games

Melbourne Victory have announced that AAMI Park will be implementing facial recognition technology as part of its security monitoring and surveillance system at the venue ahead of the 2023/24 A-Leagues season.

The goal from the A-Leagues is to introduce several tools to AAMI Park in order to create a safe and enjoyable experience for all attendees, guests, players and staff.

The technology may be used to identify individuals who have been banned by Football Australia, the Australian Professional Leagues, competing clubs as well as persons who pose a threat to the safety, security, or integrity of the event, venue, or precinct.

No Australian football fan has forgotten about the disgraceful riots and actions of the ‘OSM’ Victory supporters at last years’ Melbourne derby – that evening at AAMI Park played a part in the swift decision to introduce this technology for safety purposes.

The technology works similarly to a QR Code like we saw during COVID-19 protocols where the system collects an image of a person’s face that is then converted into a special unique code known as a mathematical template for identification purposes (like a barcode).

Melbourne Victory Managing Director Caroline Carnegie explained what the technology means for future Victory games at AAMI Park.

“We have had an enormous amount of feedback from our members and fans around Stadium security measures and how we can ensure a safe environment for everyone to enjoy our games. As a Club, we are pleased that AAMI Park will have improved security measures in place this season,” Carnegie said in the press release.

“We are extremely excited for the season ahead and look forward to our members and fans supporting our boys and girls in blue and creating an atmosphere that rivals what we witnessed during the recent Women’s World Cup. We want an atmosphere that is representative of everything we love about football and that enables us all to represent our Club together.”

Melbourne Victory are preparing for another big season in both A-Leagues competitions, recently crushing the Women’s team membership records and consistently being a top-three club membership wise in the men’s competition.

This makes it extremely important that the club fixes the glaring safety issue at home games to prepare for this season and try to create a really attractive experience to increase crowd numbers at AAMI Park which have been down over 30% since the 19/20 season pre-Covid.

This technology has already been tried and tested in the Brazilian league at Allianz Parque, home of football club Palmeiras, with great success in its infancy.

The São Paulo Public Security Secretariat (SSP) revealed that the facial recognition technology helped arrest 28 criminals in the first four matches at the stadium, with 253 missing people identified and 146,793 tickets verified by the new tool since they brought it in mid-May 2023.

Initially, the facial recognition technology was brought in with an effort to speed up access to the stadium and also combat ticket touting, however clearly the statistics show that it has a lot of power combatting potential criminals which seems to be who the A-Leagues are targeting.

This move to implement facial recognition to improve fan and staff safety can only be seen as a huge positive and a rare proactive decision made by the A-Leagues.

The importance and magnitude of this move cannot be understated either as it also has the gleaming potential to transform the way we get into future A-Leagues events, how we buy food and merchandise, and the overall fan experience in the stadium.

Serie A to stay on DAZN and Sky screens to 2029

DAZN and Sky will retain the rights to broadcast live Serie A matches in Italy for the next five seasons after Italian clubs accepted bids worth at least 4.5 billion euros ($4.8 billion).

After four months of discussions, the Serie A teams convened to examine final bids from streaming services DAZN and Sky, which totalled around 900 million euros each year until the conclusion of the 2028/2029 season, barely below the existing agreement’s yearly worth.

Seventeen of the 20 clubs backed the offer but the decision drew sharp criticism from Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis.

“It’s a total defeat for Italian football, these deals will be the death of Italian football. The problem is being a borrower or an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur must know how to measure the risk area, it is more convenient but this will never implement the value of Italian football”, he stated via press release.

Serie A earns around 930 million euros every season from the sale of its TV rights in Italy under a three-year contract that expires next June, with DAZN once again taking the lion’s share. DAZN will exclusively carry seven Serie A games each week (266 out of 380 matches per season). The remaining three will be carried by DAZN and Sky (114 matches per season).

In recent months, Serie A explored the creation of a media platform to distribute matches to other TV outlets as well as the launch of a home-run live video subscription service.

Torino chairman Urbano Cairo was all for the deal claiming the league was correct to continue the partnership.

“Figures were below our initial expectations and below our current contracts, but I think we were right to continue our relationship with Sky and DAZN. Creating a Serie A TV channel now, would had meant adding further risk to a risky business he stated via press release,” he told reporters.

When some variable components tied to revenue sharing are included, the new contracts may match or even exceed the value of the present contracts and reach 1 billion euros.

Strategic Plan 2023-2026 launched by Football West

Football West Strategic Plan

Football West recently announced the launch of their 2023-2026 Strategic Plan, a documentation affiliated with Football Australia’s One Football Strategy that will set the direction for football in Western Australia for the coming years.

The plan will see Football West improve the game under five essential departments:

  • Participants and Clubs
  • Elite Teams and Pathways
  • Fans
  • Unifying Football
  • Asia and the Sam Kerr Football Centre

Participants and Clubs

The first pillar has the aim to make Football the most accessible sport in Western Australia where everyone can play anytime, anywhere.

There are key targets set such as: Increase registrations by 5% per annum, increase participation by 3% per annum and have 95% of clubs and associations with a completed affiliation agreement (presently 82%).

Another key focus is the development of women and girls football which isn’t surprising after the recent Women’s World Cup success. Football West set a goal of 42,500 additional women & girls playing football across the three year plan.

Elite Teams and Pathways

This pillar focuses simply on the development of talent at all ages in a bid to improve the quality of the game in Western Australia.

The focus areas are Delivery of a state-wide Football West Academy program, Frequent and consistent talent identification opportunities and High quality coach development pathway

Fans

Football West is focusing on optimising the fan experience and grassroots to improve attendance numbers and social media engagement.

Unifying Football

They will develop a resourcing model that allows for the servicing of responsibilities between Football Australia and Football West, formalised in a Service Agreement

Asia and the Sam Kerr Football Centre

Football West will look to improve international exchanges with Asian countries and use the Sam Kerr Football Centre to secure sponsorships and play big matches there by 2026.

Football West Chairman Sherif Andrawes mentioned the vision that the federation has for the future of football across all levels.

“We are excited to present the Strategic Plan to the WA football community. This is a vision that will see football move forward in tandem with Football Australia but with a strong WA focus,” Andrawes said in a statement.

“Football is in a great position across the state. We saw during the FIFA Women’s World Cup and, more recently, when the CommBank Matildas played in Perth, that our sport is unique in its widespread appeal. This passion can be felt across all areas of the game.

“We want to be bold and ambitious, and the Strategic Plan gives us a strong base from which to deliver on that.”

Football West CEO Jamie Harnwell was excited to announce how the Strategic Plan would be implemented successfully.

“This Strategic Plan is a real statement of intent and one we are proud to deliver. Harnwell mentioned in a Football West statement.

“Football is more popular than it has ever been in Western Australia, in terms of participation, inclusivity and popularity, and we should all be proud of this. However, we cannot rest on our laurels.

“As a governing body, we want to make our game even more accessible, so we can inspire a new generation to love football. That comes through hard work, consultation and direction, all of which are key to the Strategic Plan.”

The Strategic Plan is well set out and focuses on the current struggles the federation is having at grassroots level. Partnering closely with Football Australia will help them achieve the ambitious goals set out to improve both the state and national foundation.

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