Bielsa admits to spying on all Leeds' opponents

After facing criticism when a Leeds spy was caught outside Derby's training ground, Marcelo Bielsa revealed he has had every rival watched.

Published : Jan 17, 2019 09:12 IST

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa
Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa

Marcelo Bielsa has admitted Leeds United have had spies watching every opponent they have faced this season.

The issue of 'Spygate' was first raised ahead of Derby County's visit to Elland Road last Friday when a Leeds employee was caught outside the Rams' training ground.

Bielsa faced widespread criticism for his actions - not least from Derby boss Frank Lampard - but, at a hastily arranged press briefing on Wednesday, the Argentine conceded it was not an isolated incident.

He said: "I observed all the rivals and we watched all the training sessions of the opponents before we played against them."

Leeds issued a statement after the Derby game reminding Bielsa of his responsibilities, while investigations have been launched by the English Football League (EFL) and Football Association (FA).

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Bielsa, though, insist he was not acting illegally, and hoped his honesty would help the investigation.

He added: "I, with the goal of gaining a sports advantage, have been seen to damage fair play. I already said I was responsible for this situation. The person who did it followed my orders and I am the only responsible one.

"My behaviour has been debated and many people have made an opinion. Many have condemned the act of behaviour. They've said it was immoral and violated the fair play and cheating.

"The club thought it was obliged [to make a] public excuse to Derby County. I was publicly told that my behaviour was not respecting the principles and integrity that are the basis of the club.

"Many managers and ex-footballers said my behaviour was not respectful.

"The league decided to open an investigation over my behaviour so they will evaluate if I behaved badly.

"One point I would like to talk about is that I am going to make it easy for the investigation of the league. I will give them what they need.

"My goal is to make the investigation easier. I don't think this will make it worse [with] what I am saying right now. By doing that I assume the possible sanctions they will give me.

"Regarding what I have done, what I have done is not illegal.

"It's not seen as a good thing but it is not a violation of the law. I know that not everything is legal is right to do. Because you have many things that are legal but they're not right.

"I didn't have bad intentions or get a sporting advantage. I did it because it was not illegal or violating a specific law.

"Of course, I have a point of view but it does not mean mine is right. I have to adapt to the rules that are linked to the habits of English football."

News of the impromptu press conference sparked consternation among Leeds fans, who feared Bielsa could resign over ‘Spygate’, especially given his history of walking out on teams previously.

But, having outlined his position, the former Argentina, Chile, Marseille and Athletic Bilbao boss gave a remarkably detailed presentation to demonstrate the in-depth analysis that goes into evaluating Leeds' opponents.

He said: "All the information I need to clarify the game against an opponent I gather without having the necessity to watch the training session of the opponent.

"So why did I do it [spy on opponents]? It's just because I thought I wasn't violating a normal thing.

"I [also] gather information that I can obtain in another manner. I would like to explain how the brain of a head coach works.

"Apart from the players in the staff you have around 20 people. These 20 people create a volume of information.

"It's absolutely not necessary. It doesn't define the path of the competition. So why do we do that? Because we feel guilty if we don't work enough. It allows us to not have anxiety."

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