Photographer: Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images

Champions League Final Police to Scan Soccer Fans' Faces

  • U.K. government sought bidders for $210,000 contract
  • Facial recognition technology has attracted privacy criticism

Security at this year’s Champions League final will be aided by facial recognition technology.

Police will be able to match soccer fans’ faces against a database of known offenders in real-time, according to a contract worth 170,000 pounds ($210,000) posted on the U.K. government’s website.

“The UEFA Champions League finals in Cardiff give us a unique opportunity to test and prove the concept of this technology in a live operational environment,” South Wales Police Chief Superintendent Jon Edwards said in an emailed statement, adding that it should provide a basis for further use of the technology by police.

Cardiff will host the event at its 74,500-seat Principality Stadium for the first time on June 3. The tournament pits the champions of Europe’s domestic leagues against each other, and is considered to be the highest accolade in club soccer. Earlier this year, BT Group Plc paid a record 1.18 billion pounds to retain rights to show the competition on British television.

Facial recognition technology has been criticized as breaching privacy rights. A federal judge in Chicago ruled in February that Google must face claims that it violated the rights of millions of users by gathering and storing biometric data without consent. Facebook Inc. has faced similar action in a San Francisco federal court.

However, the technology is still being embraced by many sectors, particularly travel. British Airways announced in March that it will start allowing passengers to go through boarding gates at its London Heathrow Airport hub using a facial recognition entry system.

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