Smile! Facial recognition software may soon replace paper tickets

By , Jason C. Kravitz

Are paper tickets to enter sports arenas a thing of the past? More and more stadiums are making the move to utilize facial recognition software rather than scanning a ticket. On April 10, Spanish soccer club Osasuna debuted facial recognition ticket admission for its La Liga match against Deportivo Alavés. It marked the first biometric admission offering in La Liga.

Attendees were given the option to upload a selfie, government ID, and ticket information to a mobile application prior to the April 10th game. Upon arrival to the stadium, these attendees were directed to a facial recognition kiosk, stationed at gate 7 of Osasuna’s El Sadar stadium, to be verified as they stood in front of the device. This facial ticketing is intended to reduce wait times to enter the stadium. While Osasuna plans to expand its facial ticketing offering to all gates at the stadium, attendees will also be permitted to show their mobile or paper ticket for entry.

Similarly, the New York Mets announced that it will offer facial ticket entry at all Citi Field gates this baseball season.

But the use of facial recognition technology may not just be for admission to the venue. In March, the Mexican Football Federation implemented a new registration system in response to recent incidents of violence and homophobic chants from fans. The system involves facial recognition software and is designed to allow the Mexican Football Federation to identify fans making inappropriate chants. According to ESPN, such fans will be given a five-year ban from Mexican soccer stadiums.

Biometric verification as a means of admission for events is not without controversy. Last month, several musicians spoke out against the use of a palm-recognition system to admit attendees to a concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. In response, the Amphitheatre has stated that it will no longer use the system.

Quicker entry to stadiums and never having to risk losing your ticket are nice perks, but it certainly begs the question: While you are watching the game, who is watching you?

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Jenny L. Holmes


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Jason C. Kravitz


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