Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto has accused Australia of drone espionage. SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 13: Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto looks on during a Honduras training session at ANZ Stadium ahead of their World Cup 2018 qualifying play-off against Australia on November 13, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

There have been plenty of accusations of espionage ahead of crucial soccer matches over the years, but those are now taking a higher-tech spin. Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto has accused Australia of spying on his team’s practice with a drone before the first leg of their two-round World Cup qualifying playoff, which ended in a 0-0 draw in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on Friday. (The second leg takes place in Australia Wednesday.)

And he’s not alone there, as Honduras’ national federation’s official account tweeted out video Monday with an accusation against Australia:

That roughly translates as “Australia was spying on Honduras’ practice with a drone, causing discomfort to the Honduran team.” Here’s what Pinto had to say about it Tuesday, as per the BBC:

“I think it is embarrassing for such an advanced country,” said Pinto.

The Football Federation Australia denied any involvement.

Pinto attempted to end the training session during the 15 minutes of open media access allowed under Fifa rules, later claiming a reporter had leaked tactical details to the Australians.

“Let’s not be innocent, it’s espionage,” he said. “It takes some of the merit away from the fair play.”

Whether the drone in question was tied to the Australian team or not, this certainly adds some further intrigue to the second leg, which takes place in Sydney, Australia Wednesday. And this isn’t the first accusation of sports espionage via drone; in the NFL, people raised questions about a drone over an Atlanta Falcons’ pre-Super Bowl practice. But this isn’t getting as much attention on the Australian side, as their media is currently involved in debating…an Australian rules football journalist’s attack on soccer?

Football commentator Simon Hill on Tuesday defended the Socceroos and the world game in the face of a bizarre attack from veteran AFL journalist Mike Sheahan. Discussing Australia’s 0-0 draw with Honduras in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying tie on Saturday, Sheahan slammed the 90 minute display as “rubbish”.

“I couldn’t believe what (football) served up in Honduras. It was played on a cow paddock, no goals were kicked, and if there was a highlight I missed it,” Sheahan told SEN on Monday.

“If this code is as big as it is … the Hondurans are coming out in a cattle truck and the Australians came home in first class. The AFL wouldn’t do that. Why wouldn’t FIFA get involved?

“How do you have an event where your aim is to not win it?

“It’s just to hold them to a draw. It’s not about goals? You go across the world to not win a game of the sport?”

Hill didn’t understand why Sheahan — who isn’t involved with football in a professional capacity — would comment on a sport he has no attachment to and is no expert on.

“If he doesn’t like the game, why is he watching it?” Hill told SEN Breakfast today.

So, the Hondurans are wondering why the Australians are allegedly watching their practice, and some Australians are wondering why an AFL journalist is watching the match. We’ll see what other surprises this one has ahead of Wednesday,


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.