The soccer ball that Russian President Vladimir Putin gifted to President Donald Trump during their controversial meeting in Helsinki last week may have contained a transmitter chip, according to a new report from Bloomberg

By Tierney McAfee
July 26, 2018 02:17 PM
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The soccer ball that Russian President Vladimir Putin gifted to President Donald Trump during their controversial meeting in Helsinki last week may have contained a transmitter chip, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

But while some have speculated — both in seriousness and in jest — that the ball may have been bugged, the chip is not a spy tool but rather a technological feature of the Adidas AG soccer ball that’s designed to connect fans to player videos, competitions and other content through their mobile devices.

Bloomberg was the first to report that the soccer ball featured a logo resembling the icon for a WiFi signal. According to the Adidas website, this logo indicates that near-field communication chip that transmits information to nearby phones is embedded in the ball.

The feature is included in the company’s 2018 FIFA World Cup match ball.

Bloomberg suggested it’s technically possible that the chip may have been removed from the ball given to President Trump and replaced with a spy device.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told the outlet, “The security screening process that is done for all gifts was done for the soccer ball. We are not going to comment further on security procedures.” She declined to say whether the ball had been modified or where it would be kept.

The Associated Press reported last week that the ball was undergoing a routine security screening.

Donald Trump (left) and Vladimir Putin
Chris McGrath/Getty

Putin’s gift to Trump last week sparked social media speculation that the World Cup souvenir could be bugged.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted, “I’d check the soccer ball for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.”

And Sean Davis, co-founder of the Federalist Society, a national organization of conservative lawyers, tweeted, “So everyone agrees that soccer ball Putin gave Trump is bugged, right?”