Sport

Save
Print
License article

World Cup qualifier: Family outing sparked row between Honduras and Socceroos

A boy and his father playing with a new toy may have caused an international sporting furore between Australian and Honduras, after allegations of "espionage" surfaced when a drone was spotted at Olympic Park. 

Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto launched a scathing attack on the Socceroos, accusing them of spying on his team, saying it was an embarrassment to Australia. 

Up Next

Record night for the 'Roos

null
Video duration
01:31

More Sports HQ Videos

Honduras team arrives in Sydney

Soccer fans cheer as the Honduras football team arrives at Sydney Airport on Monday morning.

The Honduran football association, FENAFUTH, accused Football Federation Australia of attempting to film the visitors' training session at ANZ Stadium on Monday evening after a drone was seen flying over the venue. The team's staff filmed the drone as it flew over the players and were quick to suggest it was deployed by the Australians to try and gain an insight into their tactics and preparations. 

Speaking at the pre-match press conference for Wednesday night's game, Pinto remained firm with his allegations, suggesting the Socceroos tarnished the reputation of their country. 

"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," he said. "It was an embarrassing incident. 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."

FENAFUTH released the footage and tweeted: "Australia is spying on the official training of Honduras from a drone; the occasion is disturbing the team and the Honduran delegation."

Advertisement

Their allegations prompted an immediate investigation from the Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) whose security personnel, an Australian team official and two Honduran officials drove around the precinct to find the owner. 

Much to their surprise, it wasn't any staff of the FFA controlling the drone, with sources suggesting young kids and a nearby parent were using it purely for entertainment in Cathy Freeman Park. They were understood to be advised the use of drones was not permitted in Olympic Park. The drone was brought down and the kids left the area. 

However, Pinto is refusing to believe the Australian and stadium officials, remaining firm the Socceroos were engaging in attempted "espionage".

"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 said. 

The Socceroos did use a drone during their training sessions in Honduras, but it belonged to their media team and was used only to film Australia's training sessions. 

The accusation follows another dramatic incident for the Honduran national team, who held a stand-off with the Asian Football Confederation after they were denied access to the ANZ pitch over sponsorship: Honduras players wore training jerseys with the name of a soft drink company printed on the back of their jerseys, but it was not one that had any commercial arrangements with the AFC. 

The match commissioner attempted to deny Honduras access to the playing field on the basis of their commercial partners, which sparked a heated row with coach Jose Luis Pinto and Honduras' support staff. The players were eventually allowed to train on the pitch after wearing bibs and pullovers that hid the logo. 

Pinto was not a happy man on his first day in Australia and wanted all media removed from the stadium, despite FIFA regulations requiring at least 15 minutes "open for vision".