A professional sports team is in hot water after being caught filming an opponent where it shouldn’t have.
Sound familiar, New England Patriots fans?
The culprit in question is the Sweden men’s national team, which resorted to a little James Bond-esque subterfuge while preparing for Monday’s FIFA World Cup Group F game against South Korea.
A Swedish scout tried to pass as a tourist to attend one of Korea’s closed practice sessions at its training base in Austria earlier this month, according to Reuters. The scout was turned away but remained undeterred, convincing a local couple to let him into their house in the mountains that overlooked Korea’s training facility — then using a “high performance telescope and video camera” to look in on Korea’s practice.
How do we know this? Because Sweden literally admitted it.
“It took a long car journey up the mountains to reach the house, but it was a perfect spot to observe the Korean team’s training,” Lars Jacobsson, a member of the Swedish coaching staff, told reporters Sunday, via Reuters.
But the story doesn’t end there. In anticipation of Sweden’s spying, South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong deployed his own countermeasure, making his players swap uniform numbers during their practices to confuse any unwanted onlookers.
“We switched (the numbers) around because we didn’t want to show our opponents everything and to try and confuse them,” Shin said Sunday, via Reuters.
He then added this incredible qualifier:
“They might know a few of our players but it is very difficult for Westerners to distinguish between Asians and that’s why we did that.”
All right, then.
Shin appeared pretty unfazed by Sweden’s spying, though, suggesting such foul play almost should be expected during soccer’s biggest tournament.
“All coaches probably feel their opponents are always spying on them,” Shin added. “I think it’s perfectly natural that we all try to get as much information on each other as we can.”
Thumbnail photo via Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports