The FA Cup, one of soccer’s oldest club competitions, was briefly interrupted over the weekend when a drone pilot flew too close to the action.
Just as in the US, UK pilots are not allowed to fly at night or above people. The match between Tottenham and Newport County was paused while officials spoke with police on the scene. Under the lights at Rodney Parade on Saturday night, the Welsh underdogs sealed a 1-1 draw to earn a replay with Tottenham at Wembley stadium. No doubt the pilot would have made much bigger headlines if they were caught flying over that iconic London venue.
Anyone caught piloting a drone over Rodney Parade during the match…you could be prosecuted. We have already detained one pilot. Please respect the occasion.
— Gwent Police (@gwentpolice) January 27, 2018
Local police have since detained the pilot. We don’t know yet whether he or she has been charged, but large fines have been given for similar incidents in the past. The drone was spotted after the match had been underway for around 20 minutes. One of the match officials spoke with police and is thought to have confirmed with the broadcaster covering the game, BT Sports, whether or not the drone was being used by the media company.
— Skyline Pictures (@skyline_pics) January 27, 2018
Perhaps knowing that the drone posed little threat, referee Roger East waved for play to continue after a brief stoppage.
A similar incident occurred on New Year’s Day, when a game between Yeovil and Crawley was held up for more than 10 minutes after a drone appeared above Huish Park.
So what did we learn?
Nothing that we didn’t know already. A small minority of pilots will continue to fly where they shouldn’t, damaging the reputation of hobbyists and professionals. Let’s hope that a few well-publicized fines and obvious enforcement from UK police will help to put off any other pilots hoping to film sporting events from above.
An overview of the CAA’s DroneCode can be found here.