Rome - A coach from Serie A side Genoa was caught spying on local rivals Sampdoria dressed in camouflage gear ahead of their derby clash on Sunday.
Luca De Pra, a Genoa youth-team coach and nephew of Giovanni De Prà, the club's finest ever goalkeeper, was suspended by Genoa after being caught hiding in the bushes at Sampdoria's training ground Bogliasco on Friday.
"No director or member of the coaching staff sent Luca De Prà, goalkeeper coach for the youth team, to watch the training session at Bogliasco. It was a personal initiative," Genoa said in a statement on their website (www.genoacfc.it).
"This has never been done before and is not part of the club's modus operandi. The club makes it known that De Pra has been suspended with immediate effect pending further explanations."
Sampdoria fans at the training session saw movement in the small wood next to the pitch and alerted the staff, Gazzetta Dello Sport reported.
Team manager Giorgio Ajazzone and communications director Alberto Marangon chased after the spy who tried to escape his pursuers. De Pra, however, was caught hiding behind a tree dressed in full military attire and, as a popular figure in the city, was instantly recognised.
"That the derby is a question of nerve, tactics and strategy we already knew, but frankly we could never expect that it could turn into an scene of espionage," Sampdoria said in a statement on their website (www.sampdoria.it).
"Like Rambo hidden among the branches on the hill, Luca De Pra, Genoa goalkeeping coach and man of noble footballing ancestry, failed to overcome Sampdoria's intelligence and counter intelligence operations.
"However, no prisoners were taken, and no blood was shed. Once tracked down and caught red-handed, the opposing side's soldier was let free to return to base.
"You should always forgive your enemies, as nothing annoys them more."