Fam­ily’s drone sparks Hon­duran para­noia

The Morning Bulletin - - SPORT WORLD CUP FOOTBALL -

HON­DURAS coach Jorge Luis Pinto has slammed the drone that hov­ered over his team’s train­ing ses­sion as “em­bar­rass­ing” and a case of “es­pi­onage in foot­ball”.

In com­ments that threaten to sour re­la­tions with Aus­tralian foot­ball of­fi­cials, Pinto re­fused to ac­cept that the drone his staff had spot­ted over ANZ Sta­dium on Mon­day was in­no­cently flown by childen nearby.

Ap­pear­ing to claim Soc­ceroos of­fi­cials had scoured their ac­co­mo­da­tion in Hon­duras for lis­ten­ing de­vices ahead of the first leg last week, Pinto said the drone had breached the spirit of “fair play”.

Pinto has al­ready claimed that a Hon­duran jour­nal­ist had leaked in­for­ma­tion to the Aus­tralians ahead of the first leg, and his ire was raised fur­ther by the drone that ap­peared over the sta­dium early dur­ing his team’s train­ing ses­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to a sta­dium spokesman, an FFA of­fi­cial had driven Hon­duran coun­ter­parts in a buggy around the sta­dium straight af­ter and found a pair of chil­dren play­ing with the drone in a neigh­bour­ing park. FFA has al­ready con­firmed the drone had noth­ing to do with them.

But Pinto re­fused to ac­cept that ex­pla­na­tion, say­ing: “The in­ci­dent is em­bar­rass­ing for such an ad­vanced coun­try. When Aus­tralia went to Hon­duras, they checked ev­ery bath­room, ev­ery box at the sta­di­ums where they trained and where they 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.

“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.”

Nonethe­less, Pinto (pic­tured) praised his team’s re­cep­tion in Syd­ney and said his team was ready to match the Aus­tralians.

“Re­gard­less of the in­ci­dent with the drone and the jour­nal­ist leak­ing in­for­ma­tion, our stay here has been very com­fort­able,” he said. “I just hope it is a good game; we need to be ag­gres­sive, and I will be even hap­pier if we go back to Hon­duras with qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

— Tom Smithies

PHOTO: JOSE VALLE/EPA

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