Pilot with Smart Technology Against Discriminatory Speeches

09 June 2022

In order to combat discriminatory speeches in stadiums, a pilot has been launched with smart technology. Until now, available video images in combination with sound recordings, for instance, were too often insufficient as evidence.

Within the framework of ‘Our football belongs to everyone’ (‘Ons voetbal is van iedereen’), a joint plan of the national Dutch government and football, the business community has been challenged to come up with concrete solutions in cooperation with professional football organisations. With the pilot, this challenge enters a new phase.

At the end of last year, five project plans were submitted to Sportinnovator, which supervises the challenge. The initiatives comply with Dutch privacy laws and regulations and should contribute to a more positive sports culture in football stadiums. After assessment by an independent jury, three proposals were selected.

With co-financing from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport totalling over 1 million euros, pilots were started at Feyenoord, PSV and PEC Zwolle. In these three stadiums, various solutions are being (further) developed and tested. A fourth project may start later this year. After one year, it should become clear whether and in what way this smart technology supports the detection of racism and discrimination and/or helps to identify persons involved.


  1. Tackling verbal expression of Discrimination and Insult (consortium with Feyenoord Rotterdam)

This innovation offers a solution to four issues:

  • Identification of the reason for undesirable behaviour (determine environmental variables that cause undesirable behaviour: when and by what is it triggered?).
  • Prevention through technology (how do we prevent undesirable behaviour or how can we nip it in the bud?)
  • Signalling, registration, identification and sanctioning.
  • Impact on other visitors (what is the effect on the mood of others?).
  1. Fangage for Football (consortium with PSV)

Sound cameras in the stadium are used to measure and locate the involvement and enthusiasm of the fans. By feeding this information back to the fans live, the consortium expects to motivate the supporters to encourage the club in a positive way and to sing along more: ‘fan engagement’. The technology can also be used to use artificial intelligence to detect abnormal noise (anomaly detection). A human ‘operator’ can then listen live or afterwards and take action if necessary.

  1. Smart Safe Stadiums (consortium with PEC Zwolle)

The access of a visitor to a stadium is linked to a personal ticket of the stadium visitor via an app. With this app, the club takes a further step in optimising stadium access, supporters always have their tickets digitally and it offers possibilities to inform supporters directly with relevant updates regarding the stadium visit. At a number of matches, the club will also test how additional new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, can improve the fan experience and social safety in the stadium.

Discrimination does not belong in sports’.
“Discrimination does not belong in sport and in football stadiums. I am glad that these companies, in cooperation with the clubs, are working hard to keep discrimination and offensive speeches out of the stadiums. Everyone, athletes, volunteers and spectators alike, should be able to enjoy sport and exercise, now and in the future, without hindrance and in a safe environment.”

Conny Helder, Minister for Long-Term Care and Sport

“Visiting football should be a celebration for everyone. Encouragement and rivalry are part of a competition and the experience of it, but there is also a very clear lower limit to what one can call out: there is no place for discrimination. This pilot with new and smart technology is an important part of the plan ‘Ons Voetbal Is Van Iedereen’ and with this we take another step in the fight against discrimination.”

Marianne van Leeuwen, director of professional football KNVB

‘Our football belongs to everyone’
Our Football Belongs to Everyone’ is the joint attack plan of the Dutch government, KNVB, Eredivisie CV, Keuken Kampioen Divisie and Pure Energy Eredivisie Women to combat racism and discrimination in football. The plan has twenty components. One of them is making (smart) technology available in football stadiums. The central government has commissioned Sportinnovator to organise this challenge. Meanwhile, at the request of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the national lawyer (Pels Rijcken) has conducted a legal study of the privacy laws governing the use of (smart) technology in football stadiums. The report that was drawn up can be found on the website of the central government.