Image: Football Soccer – 2018 World Cup Qualifiers – Honduras Training – Sydney, Australia – November 13, 2017. Honduras player Alberth Elis controls the ball during a training session ahead of their World Cup playoff against Australia. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz
By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Honduras accused Australia of spying on their training sessions with a drone on Monday, as tensions heated up ahead of Wednesday’s decisive World Cup playoff match.
The Honduran National Football Federation (FENAFUTH) posted on Twitter 18 seconds of footage of a drone flying above Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, where the team trained after their long flight from central America.
“Australia spied on Honduras’s official training session from a drone, causing discomfort among the Honduran team and delegation,” FENAFUTH said on its Twitter feed.
Honduras face the Socceroos at the same stadium on Wednesday night for the deciding second leg of their intercontinental playoff with the scores level at 0-0 after a tightly fought first leg in San Pedro Sula on Friday.
“We weren’t involved,” said a spokesman for Football Federation Australia (FFA).
Honduras boss Jorge Luis Pinto was also involved in a row with the media at the start of the session when he tried to close training before the 15 minutes of open access allowed under FIFA rules.
“They should show us some respect, we respected them in Honduras so they should show us respect here,” he shouted in Spanish at photographers and cameramen.
Colombian Pinto also suggested on his arrival in Sydney that someone in the Honduran media had leaked tactical details to Australia, broadcaster Televicentro reported.
According to Honduran newspaper La Prensa, Honduras team management sent up drones of their own in 2016 to ensure no unauthorised parties were monitoring their training sessions.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney and Andrew Downie in Sao Paulo, editing by Ian Ransom)
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