Tactical advantage or cheating: sports teams are taking criticism for using drones. Will professional sport be the first sector to properly regulate drone use?
NFL teams have used drones to spy on rival practise sessions


Sports teams, from Premier League football to mid-week office competitions, have used video to review their game performance in after match training sessions ever since cameras became cheap and portable. But while video has become a permanent fixture on just about every side-line, the use of drones and their potential for real-time aerial feed is stirring controversy.

NFL teams in the US have been using the technology to spy on rival practise sessions, typically held behind closed doors. The covert activity has raised questions about what is allowed and counter-measures that may be possible. While some training sessions may simply move indoors, there have been calls to regulate drone use to stop what is seen as cheating.

In the UK, last month’s Royal Ascot horse racing meet saw drones used for live coverage for the first time. While they had been deployed for recorded coverage in the past, using them for live feed marked a significant change in the way the technology is utilised.

As equipment and techniques are perfected, drone-mounted cameras could be seen to replace the wire line cameras that currently give a close up but birds-eye view in many major sporting events, from world cup cricket to international rugby.