Honduras continue drone ‘espionage’ wars
IT TURNED out to be a family playing with a rather modern toy, yet Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto has refused to let go of the “embarrassing” drone incident causing drama ahead of tonight’s World Cup qualifying finale.
Spying allegations were directed at the Socceroos on Monday after the Honduran football association caught sight of a drone hovering above its training session at ANZ Stadium. The team promptly tweeted a video of the small device next to the caption: “Australia spy Honduras training from a drone, which caused upset to the team and Honduran delegation.”
While FFA’s media staff had used a drone in Honduras to film Australia’s training ses- sions, it denied having anything to do with Monday’s incident.
Upon investigation by Sydney Olympic Park officials, the drone was found to belong to children playing in the nearby Cathy Freeman Park.
It was subsequently grounded to comply with the complex’s rules.
But asked about it yesterday, Pinto was having none of it, even suggesting Australian officials had inspected every nook and cranny in San Pedro Sula in case they’d been bugged before the weekend’s first-leg scoreless draw.
“The incident is embarrassing for such an advanced country,” Pinto said. “When Australia went to Honduras they checked every bathroom, every box at the stadiums where they trained and where they had the official training.
“The videos 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.
“Let’s not be innocent, it’s espionage in football.
“Just like VAR (video assistant referee) has made it into football, drones have made their way into espionage.
Pinto, who this week also claimed a Honduran journalist had been leaking information to Australia, was happy to maintain the tension with the Socceroos camp.
Asked if his team would deploy long balls at ANZ Stadium, the 64-year-old threw in a little dig at Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou.
“Without a doubt we’ll be employing long balls,” he said.
“So if the head coach of Australia is watching this press conference he has some insight into the game.”