The mystery of the soccer ball that Putin gave to Trump has been solved. The ball does contain a transmitter, but only for nearby phones.
It is now so clear. Trump can access secret videos from Putin broadcast from the ball. And when Trump really misses Putin but can’t get him on the phone, Trump can tweet to the ball as if Putin were right there with him.
Isn’t love grand!
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s gift of a soccer ball to U.S. President Donald Trump last week set off a chorus of warnings — some of them only half in jest — that the World Cup souvenir could be bugged. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham even tweeted, “I’d check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.”
It turns out they weren’t entirely wrong. Markings on the ball indicate that it contained a chip with a tiny antenna that transmits to nearby phones.
But rather than a spy device, the chip is an advertised feature of the Adidas AG ball. Photographs from the news conference in Helsinki, where Putin handed the ball to Trump, show it bore a logo for a near-field communication tag. During manufacturing, the NFC chip is placed inside the ball under that logo, which resembles the icon for a WiFi signal, according to the Adidas website.
The chip allows fans to access player videos, competitions and other content by bringing their mobile devices close to the ball.