Melbourne’s AAMI Park will join the list of Australian stadiums using facial recognition technology after a disastrous A-League pitch invasion last year.
Soccer club Melbourne Victory flagged the technology would be rolled out ahead of the 2023/24 A-Leagues season to identify people banned from entering the stadium, and stop those who otherwise pose a security threat.
The decision was made after a derby match between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City was suspended in December when more than 150 spectators stormed the stadium’s pitch.
Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover needed 10 stitches and was concussed after a fan launched a bucket of sand at him, striking him in the side of the head.
Referee Alex King, a TV cameraman and two security guards were also injured by others in the violent mob, which also turned on police as they responded to the chaos.
Three dozen people were charged after a public campaign to identify the pitch invaders, and Football Australia doled out bans including five-year, 20-year and lifetime prohibitions to some of those involved.
Melbourne Victory managing director Caroline Carnegie welcomed the facial recognition technology.
“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,” she said in a statement.
“As a club, we are pleased that AAMI Park will have improved security measures in place this season.”
AAMI Park’s conditions of entry were updated to reflect the use of facial recognition, Melbourne Victory said.
As of Thursday, the venue’s conditions of entry stated the stadium and the Melbourne and Olympic Parks precinct was fitted with electronic surveillance including facial recognition technology.
The precinct includes AAMI Park along with Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena, John Cain Arena, Centrepiece and Kia Arena.
Victoria Police or authorised officers would eject banned people from AAMI Park if they were detected through the facial recognition technology, Melbourne Victory said.
Consumer advocacy organisation Choice in July this year said several Australian stadiums were using facial recognition including the Sydney Cricket Ground, Allianz Stadium, Melbourne Cricket Ground and Qudos Bank Arena.
The pitch invasion saga cast a shadow over Victory’s season, with crowd restrictions and $550,000 in financial sanctions among Football Australia’s punishments.