As football rivalries go, the one between Chile and Argentina is up there among the fiercest.
So it should come as no surprise that when Chile’s national team saw a drone hovering above a training session, it suspected its rival of spying ahead of Thursday’s World Cup qualifier.
The team sent up its own drone which swiftly brought down the “spy-cam”.
But rather than being a devious Argentine device, the drone turned out to be from a Chilean energy company.
The incident happened just days before the two sides are due to meet in a World Cup qualifier on Thursday.
The Chilean team was training at the Juan Pinto Durán stadium in the capital, Santiago, when players spotted the drone.
Local media report that it was Chile’s manager, Martín Lasarte, who decided to send up a drone owned by the Chilean team to check out the suspicious object.
The two drones clashed in what Chile’s National Professional Football Association has since labelled “an accident”, but which reporters who witnessed it think was a deliberate act.
But rather than having foiled a spying attempt, it transpired that the Chilean team had taken down a device owned by energy company Enel, which said it was checking on street lighting.
Reporter Cristian Alvarado from Radio Agricultura posted footage of the two drones in the air and how they were subsequently retrieved.
¡Dos drones interrumpieron la tranquilidad de @laroja! ️ ️ #Deportes921 captó el momento en que los aparatos sobrevolaron el Complejo Juan Pinto Durán, pero hay una explicación de fondo…
Los detalles ▶️ https://t.co/2CTzgrMuh3
: @cr_alvarado83 pic.twitter.com/Q8ObIhQAMv
— Deportes en Agricultura (@Deportes921) May 31, 2021
Football managers have complained about drones attempting to spy on their teams before. In 2014, France manager Didier Deschamps asked Fifa to carry out an investigation after a drone hovered over the French training camp in Brazil ahead of its opening World Cup game against Honduras.
In 2017, Honduras accused Australia of using a drone to spy on during the Central American team’s preparation for a World Cup qualifier. The team tweeted footage of the incident.
AUSTRALIA espía entrenamiento oficial de #Honduras desde un dron; lo que ocasionó el malestar del equipo y delegación hondureña. pic.twitter.com/anCAgHtsMP
— Selección Nacional de Honduras (@FenafuthOrg) November 13, 2017
And there have been instances of spying at top clubs, too. German team Werder Bremen in 2018 admitted flying a drone over Hoffenheim’s training ground and apologised for “any nervousness this may have caused” among Hoffenheim players.
While allegations of spying with drones have become more common, some managers still resort to more old-fashioned methods.