Italian football league may use anti-terror listening devices to identify racist fans

22 October 2019, 15:12 | Updated: 28 October 2019, 15:26

Italian football chiefs are considering fitting stadiums with listening devices used in anti-terrorism operations to identify racist fans.

It comes after at least five cases of racist chanting by supporters in the country's top league, Serie A, so far this season.

Last week, during a Euro 2020 qualifier England players were subjected to monkey chants and Nazi salutes by Bulgaria fans.

Now, football federation president Gabriele Gravina has given details of "a passive radar device that uses directional microphones to determine the source of the noise".

He said the advanced listening device can "immediately determine who is making a racist chant" and can distinguish a single voice.

The tool requires two panels per stadium section, is not overly expensive and is made by an Italian company, according to the football boss.

Mr Gravina said the only obstacle would be Italy's privacy law since the device can also listen to private conversations inside the stadium.

The device may be tested for the first time during Italy's European Championship qualifier against Armenia in Palermo, Sicily, next month after the federation coordinates with the interior ministry.

So far this season, offensive chants have been hurled at Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Franck Kessie (AC Milan), Dalbert Henrique (Fiorentina), Miralem Pjanic (Juventus) and Ronaldo Vieira (Sampdoria).

Lukaku, Kessie, Dalbert and Vieira, who are all black, were targeted with monkey chants, while Pjanic, a Bosnian international who is white, was called a "gypsy".

Bulgaria has been heavily criticised for the conduct of home fans during the Euro 2020 qualifier on 14 October, which was played in a partially-closed stadium as punishment for "racist behaviour" by fans during a previous match against Kosovo in June.

FA chairman Greg Clarke called it "one of the most appalling nights" he has ever seen in football.

The European football governing body, UEFA, has since charged the Bulgarian Football Union with four offences: racist behaviour including chants and Nazi salutes; the throwing of objects; disruption of the national anthem; and replays on a giant screen.

Mr Gravina said the Italian football federation wants to use the device so "people who want to ruin the dignity of Italian and international football know that they can easily be identified and therefore punished".

He continued: "Our protocol is very strict but at times we can't identify in detail those responsible. So we need to rely on technology."

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