China to Use Face-Recognition to Keep Soccer Hooligans out of Stadiums

BEIJING_China will use face-recognition technology to scan stadium crowds for known hooligans and hopes the system can protect the 2008 Summer Olympics from fan violence, the official Xinhua News Agency said Thursday.

The devices - to be set up at stadium entrances - will be able to identify someone catalogued in the police database even if they wear heavy makeup, Xinhua said, citing Liu Xuechao, a senior police officer with the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.

The report said that police have already started compiling a database of hooligans. From March 1, a new set of anti-hooligan regulations will also allow police to ban violent fans from games for up to a year, Xinhua said.

A draft version of the law had also included detention of up to five days and fines of up to 200 yuan (US$24; euro 20) for violators.

"It has become much easier for us to close soccer games to rioting hooligans," Liu was quoted as saying. The report says that police plan to use the technology to ensure there is no soccer hooliganism at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

In recent years, Chinese soccer matches have been marred by a rash of fan violence directed mostly at league officials and referees who are widely accused of incompetence and corruption.

<<Associated Press WorldStream -- 02/24/06>>