According to the Washington Post's Jacob Bogage, reporters "for years have been asked to provide either a Social Security number or passport number and a photo for security checks for the game but have not been asked to specify their race, a field that is mandatory in the online press pass application form."
Changes were reportedly implemented because the FBI has been enlisted by the NFL to check all credentialed media members.
However, an FBI spokesperson told Bogage the field for selecting racial identification should not have been made mandatory:
"Consistent with the support we have provided in the past for special events such as the Super Bowl, the FBI will conduct name checks as requested using personally identifiable information. We seek to do this in a manner which is efficient and effective, yet minimally intrusive. Identification of race is not required to complete these checks, and we are working to reduce any confusion about this issue."
The NFL annually credentials more than 5,000 media members from across the globe for the Super Bowl. The FBI had previously only been tasked with completing checks on "other credentialed personnel, such as vendors or stadium attendant," league spokesman Brian McCarthy told Bogage.
This year's title tilt will kick off Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.