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Honduras Soccer Team Accuses Australia of Drone Espionage




honduras coach drone espionage

Plenty of pilots have got in trouble before for flying over sporting events. But we can’t think of many examples where team coaches have gone one step further and accused the opposition of drone-enabled ‘espionage’. That’s exactly what’s happened in an incident between the Honduras and Australia national soccer teams this week.

For followers of soccer, it’s an exciting time of the year. The World Cup in Russia next summer is looming on the horizon, and the final few qualification play-offs are taking place. One of those is between Honduras and Australia. Most pilots know what it’s like to be accused of spying or flying suspiciously. This time it’s happened on an international scale.

Espionage from above?

Before today’s second leg between the two nations, Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto accused Australia of “espionage” in the build-up to the first leg of their World Cup play-off last Friday.

According to Pinto, the Australians used a drone to film his team training before their 0-0 draw in San Pedro Sula, where he believes his team’s opponents spied on the session and gained an insight into Honduras’ tactics. To back up his theory, Honduran Football Association even tweeted footage of the alleged incident:

Maybe the coach is simply trying to gain an edge before tomorrow’s crucial deciding game. But he certainly didn’t hold back in today’s press conference, accusing the Australians’ alleged use of a drone as “embarrassing” and a case of “espionage in football”.

The Australian team has denied that the drone was anything to do with them. And investigations after the incident suggest that the drone spotted being flown over the ANZ Stadium on Monday was actually being operated by children nearby.

The Honduras coach Pinto has refused to accept that explanation, pointing out that the Australians have been acting shiftily since the two teams met down under.

“The incident is embarrassing for such an advanced country,” he said. “When Australia went to Honduras, they checked every bathroom, every box at the stadiums where they trained and where had the official training.

“It was an embarrassing incident. The videos (of games) show more than anything a drone can show. It just takes some of the merit away from the fair play and sporting event that will be held tomorrow.”

Droning on

“Let’s not be innocent, it’s espionage in football. Just like VAR (the video referee) has made it into football, drones have made their way into espionage.”

It’s not unusual for soccer coaches under pressure to lash out and look for excuses – in this case before the deciding game has even taken place. If Australia go through and qualify for the World Cup at the expense of Honduras, you can bet that this won’t be the last we hear about this particular case of drone espionage.


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