By 90Min
July 02, 2019

England manager Phil Neville has laughed off 'Spygate' ahead of the crunch Women's World Cup semi-final between the Lionesses and the United States, although he still questioned the etiquette on the part of the Americans, who claim there are no underhand tactics going on.

The storm erupted in the build-up to the first semi-final in Lyon when it was revealed that two officials - including the team's operations manager - from the American setup visited the luxury Fourviere Hotel that England are staying at and were given a tour of the property.

PHILIPPE DESMAZES/GettyImages

Things later threatened to escalate when video footage of a lone individual observing an England training session through a chain-link fence partially obscured by trees was shared on social media. The video showed security quickly moving in to try and remove the onlooker.

But the media wouldn't be doing their job if what appear to be a string of fairly innocent incidents weren't blown out of proportion to try and create a full-blown scandal.

There is no evidence to suggest the man caught watching the training session was anything more than a random individual or in any way related to the United States team. The security concern would have been the same regardless of who he was.

Equally, those from the USWNT have insisted the reason for the hotel visit was to scout it for their own needs should they win the semi-final and need to stay on in Lyon for the final.

Similarly, Neville described it as 'funny', while his main issue with the visit appeared to be the timing, rather than any genuine concern the Americans could gain an advantage for the game.

"It's not an unfair advantage; it'll have no bearing on the game. I actually found it quite funny. I just thought: 'What are they doing?' It's not etiquette really, is it?" the England boss was quoted as saying by BBC Sport this week.

"The only thing I would say is it's not something that I would want my team ops person doing. We're happy with our hotel. So I hope they enjoyed the hotel."

FRANCK FIFE/GettyImages

Neville did call on opposite number Jill Ellis to investigate, but the USWNT coach seemed more than happy with what happened because of the need for support staff to plan ahead.

"The only two people that think of planning ahead on my team is my administrator, because she has to book all the flights and everything and do all that stuff, and her boss, and everybody else, we don't worry about that," Ellis commented when quizzed at her own press conference.

"I think that's important, to do your job. 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."

Elsa/GettyImages

United States goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher also denied any funny business.

"[The hotel visit] has nothing to do with the game. Our managers and operations have scouted out every hotel we've ever stayed in or every potential hotel we stay in, to make sure we've got plan A, plan B, plan C," the 31-year-old stopper was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

"And that's nothing to do with the game. It's just our operations checking all the boxes and preparing for whatever path we take," Naeher added.

Elsa/GettyImages

Whoever wins Tuesday night's semi-final will remain in Lyon for the final on Sunday evening. The loser will instead head south to Nice where the third/fourth place playoff will be held on Saturday.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)