US Women's Soccer Team Faces 'Spygate' Accusations from England Coach


FIFA has set up lodgings at the Women’s World Cup so that the winner of Tuesday’s semifinal matchup between the United States and England will stay at the Fourviere Hotel in Lyon, France.

England already was staying at the hotel ahead of the semifinal matchup, and the Americans decided to scout out the hotel Sunday in the event that they advanced to the final. (They did, defeating England 2-1 on Tuesday.)

With U.S. staffers hanging out at the same hotel as his team, England coach Phil Neville said his opponent’s tactic was a breach of etiquette.

“It’s not something that I would want my team ops person doing,” Neville said at a news conference. “It’s not something that England would do. We’re happy with our hotel. Well, we were training. I hope they enjoyed the hotel. It’s not something that we’d do, send somebody around to another team’s hotel. But it’s their problem.

“I’m sure [USA coach] Jill [Ellis] probably wouldn’t have been happy with that arrangement. I wouldn’t have been if that was my team ops person going around. I’m sure she will be dealing with their own infrastructure within their own discipline probably.”

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Per The Associated Press, Team USA is staying at the Residence Lyon Metropole, which is less luxurious than the Fourviere Hotel. Perhaps the staffers were seeing what other amenities were offered if the U.S. women advanced.

Do you think the US was cheating by sending staffers to check out England's hotel?

“I just thought, ‘What are they doing?'” Neville said of the Americans. “It’s not etiquette, really. It’s not something I would allow from our organization.”

Neville admitted that Team USA gained no unfair advantage by scouting out the hotel, but some have labeled this the World Cup version of the New England Patriots’ “Spygate” scandal.

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Others took it as a sign of the U.S. women’s arrogance, as if they were assured of victory over England and were checking out where they’ll be staying afterward.

Ellis said her team was simply doing its due diligence in scouting out potential lodgings.

“I think that’s important to do your job,” she said. “So in terms of arrogance, I think that’s got nothing to do with us. That’s planning and preparation for our staff. So I think that’s pretty normal.”

This isn’t the first time that Neville has called out the actions or behaviors of another team; he did the same against Cameroon.

England defeated Cameroon 3-0 in the Round of 16 in a game that featured two controversial rulings by video assistant referees. The Cameroon players nearly staged a protest during the game.

That prompted Neville to call out the Cameroon players for their behavior after the game. The former Manchester United player said he was “utterly ashamed” of his opponents.

“Proud of my own players’ ­performances, proud of my own players’ behavior, under circumstances that I’ve never seen on a football field before, and complete and utterly ashamed of the behavior of the opposition,” Neville said, per The Telegraph.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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