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Monday, August 14, 2006

Revisited: Barcelona

Wednesday March 21st, 1979
Barcelona 1 Ipswich Town 0
(European Cup Winners’ Cup 3rd Round, 2nd Leg)
Nou Camp, Barcelona, Spain

Nou Camp

I’m no technophile but while doing a bit of research at work I came across a bit of technology that I thought was pretty neat, namely the new ticket authentication system at Barcelona’s Nou Camp.

With a capacity just short of 99,000, the Nou Camp is the largest football stadium in Europe, and with a huge number of season ticket holders it’s no surprise that faked Id cards were causing Barca a number of problems, not least the loss of ticket revenue. The old system of admittance required the ticket holder to hold up their pass for a quick visual check by an attendant and off they went to their seat – a process open to abuse.

Nou Camp

Under the new system stadium staff, armed with specially adapted Nokia mobile phones, scan each fan’s Id card as they enter the Nou Camp, and also take a headshot using the phone’s built-in camera. This verifies the holders details in real-time while simultaneously uploading the snap for storage in the club’s database. This snap can then be used to verify the card holder’s identity next time they attend a home game, when the whole process is repeated.

There are various fail-safes in place within the system to ensure entrance into the ground is not impeded in the event of signal loss, or other computer related problem, and by all accounts the whole thing has been a great success. At Ipswich we now carry a credit card style card to gain entry to Portman Road, although verification is still done manually by a turnstile operator, and a number of other league grounds are operating similar scheme’s. None as slick as the Spaniard’s though. Things have certainly come a long way since my visit to Spain in ‘79 when my ticket was simply clipped bus conductor style!

Nou Camp

Disappointing though it was to loose by the odd goal at the Nou Camp all those years ago it’s a pretty awesome experience watching a game in front of a full house there (100,000) – and this was before they added an additional tier around the stadium (taking the capacity to 120,000 at the time). Town carried a two-one lead into the game from the first leg at Portman Road, but it was the Spaniards goal in Suffolk that ultimately carried them through into the next round, winning by a goal to nil at home to go through on the away goals rule. What made it doubly disappointing was that this was the second year in a row Town had been knocked out of European competition by Barca. The year before, this time in the UEFA Cup, the Blues had beaten Cruyff and Co at Portman Road three-nil only to loose the second leg by the same score and then make a hash of things in a penalty shoot out. Barcelona went on to win the Cup Winners’ Cup in ’79, defeating Fortuna Düsseldorf 4-3 in the final in Basle, Switzerland, a final regarded as one of the best finals of this now, sadly, defunct competition.

Addendum:

The same week we were in Barcelona a hockey tournament was taking place in an ice arena adjacent to the Nou Camp. We watched a couple of games including one featuring the GB team (pictured bottom right)!

Nou Camp               Nou Camp

posted by chevblue at 1:06 pm






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