Italian league could use anti-terror listening devices to identify racist fans
Football authorities could test the tools during Italy’s European Championship qualifier against Armenia in Sicily next month.
Italian football chiefs are considering employing advanced listening devices used in anti-terrorism operations to identify racist fans.
After at least five cases of racist chanting in eight rounds of the Serie A season, football federation president Gabriele Gravina has detailed “a passive radar device that uses directional microphones to determine the source of the noise”.
He added: “It can immediately determine who is making a racist chant — or it can illustrate the trajectory of fireworks.”
Mr Gravina said the tool requires two panels per stadium section, is not overly expensive and is made by an Italian company.
He said the only obstacle is Italy’s privacy law, “because (the device) can also listen to private conversations inside the stadium”.
The federation is co-ordinating with the Interior Ministry with the aim of testing the tools during Italy’s European Championship qualifier against Armenia in Palermo, Sicily, next month.
Offensive chants have been aimed this season at Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan), Franck Kessie (AC Milan), Dalbert Henrique (Fiorentina), Miralem Pjanic (Juventus) and Ronaldo Vieira (Sampdoria).
Lukaku, Kessie, Dalbert and Vieira are all black, and were targeted with monkey chants. Pjanic, a Bosnian international who is white, was called a “gypsy”.
The Italian league and federation have not consistently handed out penalties to clubs whose fans were responsible or the offending fans themselves.
“This device allows you to perfectly distinguish a single voice,” Mr Gravina said. “We would like to use this tool so that people who want to ruin the dignity of Italian and international football know that they can easily be identified and therefore punished.
“Our protocol is very strict but at times we can’t identify in detail those responsible. So we need to rely on technology.”
Mr Gravina first detailed the possible use of the devices in an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica on Monday and added further detail in a news conference.