Just a soccer ball — or something more?
The Adidas soccer ball Russian President Vladimir Putin gave to President Donald Trump at their summit in Helsinki last week contains a chip that can transmit information to nearby cell phones, according to Bloomberg.
“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. The feature is included in the 2018 FIFA World Cup match ball that’s sold on the Adidas website for $165 (reduced to $83 in the past week).”
Putin’s soccer ball for Trump had a transmitter chip, the logo indicates. But it was an advertised feature of the Adidas product https://t.co/zcrFQKu0tU pic.twitter.com/Ei5OcH5xhI
— Bloomberg (@business) July 25, 2018
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted that the ball should never be allowed in the White House.
Finally, if it were me, I’d check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 16, 2018
The Secret Service said the ball underwent a routine security screening.
So was there a device inside the soccer ball when it was gifted to Trump, or was the chip removed prior to the summit?
According to Bloomberg, it’s not clear whether the device was “removed, replaced with actual spy gear, or, even more remotely, whether the entire ball itself was fabricated for the event and only resembled the Adidas model in question.”
Trump said the ball was going to be gifted to his 12-year-old son, Barron.