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.