By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
  1. David Bolt

    David Bolt Member

    May 30, 2008
    Liverpool
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Wales

    Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

    By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
    [​IMG]

    A weird story broke last Friday, when it was announced that Championship side Derby County had called the police after discovering a man in their training facility the previous day. The man had a pair of binoculars and a change of clothes on him and he turned out to work for Championship leaders Leeds United, who Derby were due to play the following day.




    The immediate implication was that Leeds were spying, and the FA launched an investigation, which was made a lot easier when the Leeds manager, Marcelo Bielsa admitted that’s exactly what they were doing when asked before the game. The Leeds employee was later released without charge.

    Leeds won the game 2-0 to stay top of the Championship, but all the talk was about Bielsa’s actions. Leeds have apologised for what happened, but Bielsa was a bit confused as to what he’d done wrong, saying 'It's true there was someone from Leeds United. The responsible of this incident is me. It doesn't matter if this is illegal or legal but it is right or wrong.

    'For me it's enough that Frank Lampard and Derby County felt it was not the right thing to do and that I didn't behave well.

    'I talked to Lampard and he told me that I didn't respect the fair play rules. I have a different point of view on it but the important thing is what Lampard and Derby think.

    'I am the only one responsible for it because I didn't ask the club Leeds permission to do that.

    'Without trying to find a justification, I have been using this kind of practice since the qualifications for the World Cup with Argentina.

    'This is not illegal, we have been doing it publicly, we talk about it in the press, for some people it is the wrong thing to do but for other people it is not the wrong thing to do’

    Derby manager Frank Lampard was less than impressed saying ‘Of course I don't think it's right and I'm not sure anyone who's played sport at any level would think it's right. If it's a cultural thing I'm very surprised because I don't think it's right’

    ‘I'd rather not coach than send people undercover on their hands and knees with pliers and bolt cutters to go and look at the opposition because I respect the opposition.'

    There aren’t any rules that specifically prohibit spying on another team. There is a vague rule that says ‘in all matters and transactions relating to the league each club shall behave towards each other club and the league with the utmost good faith’ but that’s open to interpretation, and there’s no specific sanction mentioned for that. So I think it’s unlikely Leeds will get punished.

    The reaction to this has been mixed. Some people are up in arms about Leeds’ conduct, others don’t really see what the big deal is. I tend to fall towards the latter.

    Yes, Bielsa’s actions weren’t sporting, but neither are a lot of things that teams do. Teams tap up other teams’ players and youth players, some doctor the pitch in order to disadvantage the opposition and some teams mess with the oppositions preparation, such as the changing room heating ‘accidentally’ breaking and the room is either uncomfortably hot or cold. Even of none of them do that, they have no problem with their players cheating all game.

    Sending a spy is different to the normal scouting teams do to prepare for a game. Bielsa’s staff would’ve learned a lot about Derby by watching film and they will have sent scouts to watch them. But, what they couldn’t learn by any other method than sending a spy is to see if Derby were doing anything unexpected such as playing a different player or trying a different way of playing designed to nullify Leeds.

    Leeds definitely aren’t the only team who have been spying on the opposition. Former Chelsea chief scout and later manager Andre Villas Boas has admitted doing it during Jose Mourinho’s first spell as manager. Manchester United were accused of flying a helicopter over Manchester City’s training ground. And there’s a load of stories about other clubs doing the same thing, including one about Huddersfield’s kitman hiding in the ceiling above the away dressing room.

    <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Nothing new this spygate lark. I remember a certain game for Lincoln away against Huddersfield before I signed there. Big Keith was giving his halftime talk and one of the polystyrene tiles cracked and fell down. The sight of Brooky the Kitman trying to back up was hilarious. </p>&mdash; Gary Taylor-Fletcher (@GTF_12) <a href="
    ">January 12, 2019</a></blockquote>
    <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


    Clubs are also passed inside information about others. A few years ago Cardiff midfielder Aron Gunnarsson was accused of sending the Cardiff team to the Sporting Director of Crystal Palace, who were their upcoming opponents, only for that person to send it to the wrong coach by accident. Over the past few seasons Liverpool’s teamsheets have been leaked and shared over social media.

    That Bielsa’s actions have raised eyebrows speaks to the psyche of a lot of British sporting fans. People often say that British people have a problem with winning. That’s not true; what British people seem to have a problem with is the single-minded pursuit of victory.

    Traditionally, the Brits value fair play above all. They have liked their winners to have either been underdogs, or to have almost won accidentally. The idea of doing anything to win is a relatively new concept, and it’s one that a lot of people aren’t comfortable with.

    A good example of that is the British-based cycling team Team Sky. That team has been hugely successful, but has operated right at the edge, using loopholes and grey areas to stay within the rules. The British public has never really taken to the team because they don’t know what to make of them.

    Some sense of proportion is needed for all of those who are criticising Bielsa. He may have crossed an ethical line, but that’s it. We each have our individual codes of ethics, our own sense of what’s right and wrong. He didn’t break any rules; he didn’t hurt anyone.

    The stakes are now so high in modern football that teams will do anything to get any advantage they can. And if that means breaking an unwritten rule then so be it.
     

Comments

Discussion in 'England' started by David Bolt, Jan 13, 2019.

    1. hussar

      hussar Member+

      Jun 24, 2015

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Agreed, not a big deal. Henry Winter is a tool though.
       
    2. mschofield

      mschofield Member+

      May 16, 2000
      Berlin
      Club:
      Union Berlin
      Nat'l Team:
      Germany

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Agree, not such a big deal. I'd think that it's also not overly valuable by this time of the season. Previous games probably give a better indication of what you'll be facing.
       
    3. Soccerhunter

      Soccerhunter Member+

      Sep 12, 2009

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      I, for one, am disappointed by a dismissal as "no big deal" of failures in ethics. All over the world it seems that many, including politicians, are more and more adopting the notion that it's OK to be in the grey areas and do things that in previous generations would have been unacceptable and then push the limits of civility even further.

      So call it like you see it... that it is not such a big deal and others have done it before, but ongoing erosion of fair play ethics saddens me and by your writing apparently many others too. I am not happy that the the beautiful game is thus being slowly coarsened. If these kinds of issues are ignored and dismissed by officials or commentators shaping public opinion, persons like me will just have to suck it up and deal with it or stop being fans. Not a happy outcome for the sport.
       
    4. Roger Allaway

      Roger Allaway Member+

      Apr 22, 2009
      Warminster, Pa.
      Club:
      Philadelphia Union
      Nat'l Team:
      United States

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      The 1950s comedy team Flanders and Swann said something similar to this in a song about how "The English are best." What they said was:
      "All over the world, every nation's the same.
      "They've simply no notion of playing the game.
      "They argue with umpires. They cheer when they've won.
      "And they practice beforehand, which ruins the fun!"
       
      M repped this.
    5. Jenks

      Jenks Member+

      Feb 16, 2013
      Club:
      --other--

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      If spying didn't yield valuable information than nobody would bother doing it. It's not the end of the world but the league should absolutely take action against Leeds.
       
    6. autogolazzo

      autogolazzo Member

      Mar 4, 2007

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Well, the Brits definitely have valued winning over playing attractive football.

      It seems that different nations seem have a different definition of "win at all costs."
       
    7. hussar

      hussar Member+

      Jun 24, 2015

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      And also the league should take action against players who dive, against every manager who plays psychological plays like Mourinho, every fouls the referee did not spot etc. This moral highground is by far the most ridiculous thing in English football.
       
      Jonesta repped this.
    8. hussar

      hussar Member+

      Jun 24, 2015
      #9 hussar, Jan 14, 2019
      Last edited: Jan 14, 2019

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Also: if the English are moaning about "what the beautiful game has become" then shouldn't have let the Premier League operating, which was the biggest step on the road from turning into a cut-throat business. When the best players from the world come to England the English are proud, but when people actually act like in any other big money business, then they are outraged. This is getting even more ridiculous than Brexit.
       
    9. Jenks

      Jenks Member+

      Feb 16, 2013
      Club:
      --other--

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      No they're not. What a stupid thing to say.
       
    10. Dyvel

      Dyvel Member+

      Jul 24, 1999
      The dog end of a day gone by
      Club:
      Leeds United AFC
      Nat'l Team:
      Ireland Republic

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      I'm ok with what happened.
       
    11. SamsArmySam

      SamsArmySam Member+

      Apr 13, 2001
      Minneapolis, MN

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Given the feelings of love and mutual respect between England and Argentina in all things football, I'm surprised the former England international didn't give the former Argentina manager more of the benefit of the doubt.
       
    12. Unak78

      Unak78 BigSoccer Supporter

      Dec 17, 2007
      PSG & Enyimba FC
      Club:
      Chelsea FC
      Nat'l Team:
      Nigeria

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      ...because they're all just fine with the concept of Manchester City's owners using their money to invest in their business...
       
    13. Paul Berry

      Paul Berry Member+

      Notts County and NYCFC
      England
      Apr 18, 2015
      Beacon NY
      Nat'l Team:
      United States

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Very interesting...

      upload_2019-1-16_20-52-56.jpeg
       
    14. M

      M Member+

      Feb 18, 2000
      Via Ventisette

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      I find it hard to get very excited about this. Just as I thought the NE Patriots "spygate" was ridiculous too.
       
    15. elbp

      elbp Member

      Feb 1, 2007
      Cordoba, ARG
      Club:
      --other--
      Nat'l Team:
      Argentina

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Lampard is an ass. I am glad Bielsa got the upper hand on him
       
      hussar repped this.
    16. MarioKempes

      MarioKempes Member+

      Real Madrid, DC United
      Aug 3, 2000
      Raleigh, NC
      Club:
      Real Madrid

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Was it ethically wrong? Yes. Did it give a big advantage? No. Could it give a small advantage? Possibly.
       
    17. hussar

      hussar Member+

      Jun 24, 2015

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Can we talk about professional football clubs and the word "ethical" in one sentence in the 21st century? Most likely not.
       
      elbp repped this.
    18. MarioKempes

      MarioKempes Member+

      Real Madrid, DC United
      Aug 3, 2000
      Raleigh, NC
      Club:
      Real Madrid

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Hey, you'll get no argument from me. I just framed the Bielsa situation. I doubt Leeds are the only club that spies. I bet it's commonplace. That doesn't make what he did (or directed) right, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not a huge deal. Perhaps now they'll make it explicitly against the rules. Perhaps they will sanction Leeds by taking a couple of points away or fine them.
       
    19. hussar

      hussar Member+

      Jun 24, 2015

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Point deduction for this would be a travesty. On what grounds, honestly? If the League does this, then why don't do the same for diving, unnoticed handball, or financial tricks - the latter is much more serious problem in football than people watching training on a public ground.
       
    20. Paul Berry

      Paul Berry Member+

      Notts County and NYCFC
      England
      Apr 18, 2015
      Beacon NY
      Nat'l Team:
      United States

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      It used to be called scouting. In the internet era it's called spying.
       
    21. Jenks

      Jenks Member+

      Feb 16, 2013
      Club:
      --other--

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      It's called spying because it's spying. You scout at opposition games, not in opposition bushes.
       
    22. hussar

      hussar Member+

      Jun 24, 2015

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Is there any rule regarding "spying" in football? You'll not find this word in the League rulebook.
       
    23. Jenks

      Jenks Member+

      Feb 16, 2013
      Club:
      --other--

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      There's some vague wording about clubs interacting honestly that they could use to justify sanctions if they really wanted to. They should still introduce explicit rules against spying either way though.
       
    24. Paul Berry

      Paul Berry Member+

      Notts County and NYCFC
      England
      Apr 18, 2015
      Beacon NY
      Nat'l Team:
      United States

      Is Leeds' 'Spygate' Really A Big Deal?

      By David Bolt on Jan 13, 2019 at 4:36 PM
      Certainly not as big a deal as NFL refs fixing conference finals.
       

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