UPDATE (2:25 pm ET): Marcelo Bielsa publicly admitted to sending an employee to spy on Derby County training. He took full responsibility for his actions, saying nobody instructed him to do so.
Even more shockingly, Bielsa admitted to making use of training ground spies as far back as 17 years ago. “Without trying to find any form of justification, I have been using this practice since the  World Cup qualifications with Argentina,” Bielsa told Sky Sports.
When asked if he is aware of any rules preventing this action, he said, “It doesn’t matter if it’s legal or illegal or right or wrong. For me it’s enough that Frank Lampard and Derby felt it was not the right thing to do.” Reports state Bielsa called Derby manager Frank Lampard to admit to the action before going public.
Bielsa coached Argentina from 1998-2004, and led the Chilean national team from 2007-2011. Since, he has taken charge of club teams Marseille, Lazio, Lille, and now Leeds, hired by the English club in June.
There are no particular rules against spying on opposing clubs, but the English FA could punish Bielsa for bringing the game into disrepute if it determines the offense is grounds for such a charge.
Lampard also told media Friday afternoon that the club noticed someone acting suspiciously around the training ground before they lost 4-1 to Leeds in August. “On a sportsman’s level, it’s bad in my opinion,” Lampard said. “If we’re going to start talking about ‘culturally I did it somewhere else so it’s fine,’ then that doesn’t work for me because I don’t believe it is fine on that level. It’s disrupted our buildup to this game.”
Derby County has released a statement confirming that a man caught reportedly spying on their training session was an employee of Championship rivals Leeds United, whom the Rams are set to play later today.
According to reports on Thursday evening and Friday morning, police were called when it was discovered a man was “acting suspiciously outside the premises” at the club training ground. Reports say the man was watching Frank Lampard’s training session with binoculars, and was also in possession of pliers and a change of clothes.
The Derby County club statement went one step further, confirming that the employee was a member of the Leeds United staff. Leeds sits atop the Championship table, and the two have a vitally important league match with Derby just eight points back in a hotly contested Championship promotion race.
While they did not confirm the identity of the man, Derbyshire police did address the incident on social media Thursday, saying, “Officers have just attended the Training Ground for @dcfcofficial After a suspicious male was seen at the perimeter fence. Excellent searching conducted & male was located. All checks above board!
Keeping the team safe to bring home a win against #LUFC on 11th!”
Police say they did not make an arrest, and instead the man was simply “sent on his way.” In the club statement, Derby County confirmed they are “in discussion with Leeds United club officials in relation to this incident.”
Derby has done well under new manager Lampard this year, but they have just one win in their last five league matches and desperately need a high-profile result to avoid further trouble as they sit at the bottom of the playoff positions. Meanwhile, Marcelo Bielsa has Leeds atop the standings, just two points ahead of Norwich City.