SCOTTISH football officials have been criticised for seeking government support to introduce facial recognition technology to help fight offensive behaviour in stadiums from next season. The Scottish Government and the Scottish leagues’ governing body have reportedly met to discuss financial help for the multi-million pound scheme to identify offenders.
Recent cases of sectarian chanting and the use of smoke bombs and flares have prompted a discussion within the Scottish Professional Football League. The proposal by the Scottish Professional Football League has already been met with criticism from protest group Fans Against Criminalisation which has been fighting to scrap the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 on the grounds that it is “fundamentally illiberal and unnecessarily restricts freedom of expression”.
The group tweeted: “Another draconian development as the war on football fans continues. £2m on this whilst social services are cut #FAC.
“Facial recognition software for football fans? Is this really the kind of country we want to live in? #PoliceState #FansNotCriminals.”
The SPFL is also considering imposing point deductions from next season for failing to control supporters in its moves to tackle offensive behaviour including sectarian singing and the use of flares.
The facial recognition proposal would be expected to pinpoint those who have previously been found guilty of prohibited behaviour. The creation of a database of fans who should be banned from grounds across the country is expected. Clubs would be alerted if fans on the blacklist try to enter the stadium while banned.
Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan has called for the introduction of “strict liability” rules where clubs can be punished for the conduct of its fans regardless of whether the club itself is to blame. It would bring Scottish regulations in line with those used by Uefa for European competitions.