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Fans of Hungarian soccer team Ferencvaros have come “en masse to their home stadium in Budapest” to protest the club’s new biometric ID equipment, which controls turnstile entry to the stadium, according to Biometric Update. Fans were heard to chant “Down with the scanner!”
The Fradi stadium has recently been equipped by palm vein scanners, which identify individual supporters based on five million palm vein data points, taking about a second. The Star Online reports that the club spent $61 million on the scanners, which it says “only holds a multiple encrypted hashcode of the vein structure of two palms of each fan and an identification number, separately stored from other personal data to prevent any misuse.”
It’s not the first instance of biometric identification in soccer stadiums, but they have tended to slow things down. Dutch soccer team ADO Den Haag use a facial recognition system, which takes five seconds to identify fans.
But Ferencvaros protesting the introduction of biometrics remain unimpressed. Balazs Magyar, spokesman for the Fans With No Personal Right Movement expressed his frustration to Reuters, saying “What is this madness? Will they implant a chip into us the next time? New stadium, new fans? This will not work.”
The club’s CEO Pal Orosz said that the measures are needed to prevent violence and hooliganism inside the stadium: “We like it or not, the world goes into this direction,” he said. “We have no choice, given that the UEFA [European soccer’s governing body] has very strict requirements… Whoever ignores those will be severely fined.”
The explanation has left fans both puzzled and angry, given stadium behavior is said to be much better than it was a decade or two ago. Some fans believe it is a system to allow clubs to pass fines from the country’s soccer governing body down to the fans.
If that is the case, it may backfire, with fans promising a boycott of matches until the club listens. “We will stay off matches until Hungarian football leaders seriously change their thinking. The scanner is only a symbol of that, even though a very important one,” warned Magyar.
acceptphoto / Shutterstock.com
Author Alan Martin, ESET