During Sunday’s Palmeiras game against Bahia in the Brasileirão, facial recognition software at the stadium worked wonders. Cameras spotted a wanted crime boss who was looking to watch the game. With the facial recognition software pointing out Rogério Barbosa da Silva Gois, police in the stadium were able to apprehend the leader of a criminal faction in the Brazilian state of Bahia.

Also known as R6, Rogério Barbosa da Silva Gois is the leader of Bonde do Maluco. This criminal organization is the largest in the Bahia with its headquarters in the city of Salvador. That is where EC Bahia plays, and R6 was going to attend the game against Palmeiras. However, Brazilian stadiums, like many across the globe, have facial recognition software. As fans enter the ground, computers and cameras scan them. Software checks if their faces match up with anything that raises flags. For example, fans banned from stadiums will not be able to enter because of facial recognition software.

In this case, facial recognition software spotted R6 entering the game. With charges ranging including drug trafficking, the police at the venue had reason to step in and arrest the criminal. Police officers from the 2nd Riot Police Battalion of São Paulo arrested R6 at the stadium and took him into custody. Having the crime boss in the hands of the police will also play a role in helping authorities deal with Bonde do Maluco. For reference, the crime organization also partakes in robberies, kidnapping and murder, making it one of the most notorious groups in all of Brazil.

Brazil not alone in adopting facial recognition software

Capturing Rogério Barbosa da Silva Gois is a symbol of how effective facial recognition software can be for stadiums. In some cases, it is there to prevent hooliganism. For example, stadiums at Euro 2024 use facial recognition software to, as stated, blacklist certain individuals. Software pings authorities when someone who is not supposed to be at the game shows up. It also helps in identifying those suspicious of certain activities.

If Brazil has served as any indication, facial recognition works. Liga MX adopted facial recognition software after multiple incidents regarding safety at the league’s games. In one famous incident, 22 people suffered injuries after a brawl broke out at a game in 2022. The software ensures those fans who participated would not be allowed to go to games in Liga MX.

There are concerns surrounding the lack of privacy these cameras and facial software bring. Generally speaking, fans do not like to be on camera when they are trying to enjoy a soccer game. Yet, there are now tangible results on the effectiveness of the cameras and software. While every game will not capture a crime boss like that in Brazil, there is reason to support the implementation of technology that promotes safety at soccer stadiums.

The Brasileirão, which saw the crime boss captured, is in the midst of its 2024 campaign. Bahia currently sits fifth in the Brazilian table while Palmeiras, the defending champion, is third in the league.