Putin’s Soccer Ball Gift to Trump Really Contains a Transmitter

  • President Vladimir Putin presented a soccer ball to US President Donald Trump during the two leaders’ joint press conference in Helsinki last Monday, a day after the end of the World Cup hosted by Russia.
  • The red and white ball has undergone a routine security check, which is apparently standard for all gifts to the president.
  • It turns out that the bullet does indeed contain a transmitter chip.

The red and white soccer ball that Russian President Vladimir Putin threw to US President Donald Trump last week in Helsinki after Russia’s World Cup had a transmitter chip.

But unfortunately for all potential spies and speculators online, the White House is not alarmed by the discovery.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a security conference he was sure the balloon had “been looked at very carefully”.

There are good reasons to be cautious. Russia has a colorful history of collecting American secrets dating back more than 150 years, in ways that have surprised and impressed American security experts.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said: “If it was me, I would check the football for listening devices and I would never allow it into the White House.

But sticking a transmitter in a soccer ball and handing it to Trump is perhaps a little too obvious.

And by the way, the Adidas AG ball already has one, here, under the Wi-Fi symbol:

Donald Trump Putin soccer ball

Russian President Vladimir Putin presented President Donald Trump with a soccer ball last week.

Getty Images/Business Insider Australia



According to the Adidas site, the near-field communication chip embedded under the logo “is passive” and can only send information.

The device it interacts with – a cell phone, for example – “can both send and receive information”.

Users who swipe down, activate NFC and touch the ball with their phone receive “features such as exclusive product information, Adidas football content, special competitions and challenges”.

And it doesn’t store information about how the ball is used – although the tag can be updated to add new functionality.

Bloomberg asked Adidas if the chip “could be a vector for a Russian hack”, and Adidas declined to comment.

On its website, however, Adidas indicates that it is “not possible to delete or rewrite the encoded parameters” of the NFC tag.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, told Bloomberg the balloon was fully filteredlike all the gifts received by the president.

A spokesperson for a hacker collective says an attack could only be launched via the soccer ball if Trump intentionally planted it


malware

on the device.