Football: Austria's Linz accused by rivals of breaking coronavirus rules

Linz players and coach Valerien Ismael during training in Pasching, Austria, on April 20, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

VIENNA (REUTERS) - Austrian league leaders LASK Linz have been accused by their rivals of holding training sessions which break coronavirus rules but have themselves complained that they have been victims of industrial espionage.

Eleven of the 12 teams in the Austrian Bundesliga, which is due to re-start in June, said they had been presented with "clear video material" that showed Linz had ignored guidelines which restrict training to small groups of players.

"These videos clearly show that the league leaders have disregarded the guidelines for small group training set by the ministry (of sports)," a joint statement from the other teams said on Thursday (May 14).

The clubs said they "dissociated ourselves from this behaviour and will continue to adhere strictly to the government's guidelines. The responsible and safe continuation of the Bundesliga competition remains a top priority".

Austria Vienna made their own statement.

"We are really very disappointed, because in the past few weeks we have done everything we could for the resumption of training and matches under an extreme commitment for the Bundesliga and for all the clubs," they said.

"Everything is then torpedoed with such fatal actions."

Champions Salzburg said they were "shocked and stunned" by the approach of the LASK.

"For many months we have been working so hard together... Obviously, not all clubs and individuals are aware of this great responsibility," Salzburg added.

Linz managing director Andreas Protil told the APA news agency that two men had broken into the club's training ground overnight and installed video surveillance cameras, adding that the incident had been reported to the police.

"We are shocked that there are obviously third parties who are willing to break into our club premises with criminal energy in order to carry out industrial espionage," Protil said.

"The perpetrators were filmed and are now being investigated."

APA said the Bundesliga was investigating the incident.

The Austrian government allowed teams to begin training on April 20 under strict rules which restricted them to groups of six. Full training sessions will be permitted from Friday.

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