Spying row before Australia vs England Women's World Cup semi-final

England's training session as seen from the helicopter - Spy row erupts ahead of Australia vs England Women's World Cup semi-final

England’s World Cup semi-final showdown with Australia has been soured by a spying controversy after a helicopter was used to film the Lionesses’ final training session before the match in Sydney.

The Australian Daily Telegraph sent the helicopter to spy on Sarina Wiegman’s side as they worked on a plan to beat the Matildas and knock them out of the tournament they have co-hosted alongside New Zealand.

Despite a largely amicable build-up, the underhand methods deployed by a prominent Australian newspaper will anger players and supporters alike.

“If England’s Lionesses thought they would happily fly under the radar into the World Cup semi final they were in for a rude shock,” boasted the Australian Telegraph. “We’ve sent the chopper up to see how the old enemy are preparing… Welcome to the jungle, Lionesses, we’ve got fun and games.”

The newspaper went on to write: “As the Matildas held their final training session behind closed doors at Kogarah, about 100km north at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford the England team attempted to finalise their preparations without any prying eyes.

“But just as we did last week when we wanted to know if Sam Kerr was back in full training mode or on restricted duties with her calf injury, The Daily Telegraph went to the sky with these exclusive aerial photographs of England’s final training run.

“It might not be in the spirit of football, but after last month’s men’s Ashes cricket series we will let the moral arbiters England pass judgment on what is and isn’t acceptable in the world of sport. But make no mistake, England are here to ruin Australia’s party…”

What will Australia learn from this bird's eye view of the Lionesses training?
What will Australia learn from this bird's eye view of the Lionesses training? - Australian Daily Telegraph
Spying from the skies - what the helicopter saw of the England training session
Spying from the skies - what the helicopter saw of the England training session - Australian Daily Telegraph

The FA has declined to comment, although the incident is bound to offer extra motivation for England’s players as they look to reach a World Cup final for the first time

The controversy comes just a few weeks after the Australian cricket team were roundly criticised in the second Test of this summer’s Ashes series when wicketkeeper Alex Carey stumped Jonny Bairstow at Lord’s after the England batsman had wandered out of his crease at the end of an over.

The incident sparked anger across the country, with the Australian team booed and then confronted by furious MCC members in the Lord’s Long Room. The chant “same old Aussies, always cheating” became a regular soundtrack to the rest of the drawn series.

There is nothing to stop domestic media outlets filming or photographing training sessions and no rules have been broken. It is not even clear whether the footage was passed on to Australia’s coaching staff, although in truth, the pictures do not reveal much about England’s tactics or methods to nullify Australia’s attacking threat.

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