Pro sports turn to AI to track illicit resales

Japan's professional-sports organizations are using artificial intelligence to crack down on illicit sales of exclusive goods on Internet auction sites.

One case involves uniforms issued by Kawasaki Frontale, a J1 League soccer squad. It issued around 1,000 of the items signed by team members and offered to fans by lottery.

But some of the uniforms have been resold on the auction sites.

Kawasaki Frontale has tied up with venture firm "Efficient" to develop a program that deals with the problem. The system is aimed at identifying the resellers.

Its AI records details of each uniform, including the locations of all the signatures. It also maintains information on all the fans who received the items. The AI uses the data to match it with that of an item appearing on an online retail site.

Efficient President Wakisaka Kenichiro says, "We want to deter resales. To that end, we manage data on the goods. I want the resellers to know that."

The system is said to have a 97-percent accuracy rate when it comes to identifying the sellers.

The illicit sales have occurred in tandem with PR initiatives by sports organizations to keep team supporters interested during the pandemic. The fans have had fewer opportunities to go out and watch their favorite teams at stadiums.