The Soccer Ball Putin Gave Trump Has an Adidas Transmitter Chip in It: Report

While lawmakers and news pundits speculated about the possibility of the soccer ball gifted to President Donald Trump by Russian President Vladimir Putin being bugged, it turns out that, in a way, it was – by Adidas.

The soccer ball is one of the company's models that comes with a tiny transmitter chip already embedded under the outer layer of the ball, as first reported by Bloomberg, giving it the ability for "two devices to exchange data."

Vladimir Putin passed a soccer ball to President Trump in Finland on Monday. It's unclear what the goal was. That said, many Americans didn't exactly get a kick of the gesture, and in the eyes of most, Russia was the day's big winner ⚽️

— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) July 17, 2018

According to Adidas' website, the digital technology is called "Near Field Communication" (NFC) which enables a phone or tablet to send "radio frequency signals" that interacts with the NFC chip. It allows players to access special information and games online after connecting. Adidas says the NFC tag cannot be modified and can only send information, not receive it.

"It is not possible to delete or rewrite the encoded parameters," Adidas says.

The chip, which is placed underneath a logo on the ball, is made by a Netherlands technology company, Smartrac. According to its website, NFC tags can "carry significantly more data, are more secure and can be password protected." It is also the same type of technology used in the 2018 FIFA World Cup ball.

Adidas declined to comment Thursday morning. Smartrac did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment Wednesday and whether the device is susceptible to hacking.

In 2015, a hacker used the technology to send an Android phone a link that, when clicked on, installed a virus to take over the phone.

The White House declined to tell Bloomberg whether the chip had been removed from the ball or where it was being kept.

"The security screening process that is done for all gifts was done for the soccer ball," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Bloomberg. "We are not going to comment further on security procedures."

Putin gave the ball to Trump during a press conference in Helsinki earlier this month following the two leaders' 2-hour-long one-on-one meeting that has since sparked significant bipartisan backlash. Despite being told Putin likely personally ordered cyberattacks on the U.S. elections, Trump refused to acknowledge Russian meddling while standing next to the Russian leader.

Lawmakers from both parties expressed pause about the ball, suggesting it could likely contain listening devices. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina expressed his discontent with Trump's meeting, adding that he would "never allow [the soccer ball] in the White House" because it was probably bugged.

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

I just saw a US Secret Service agent put the soccer ball Putin gave Trump through a security scanner outside the Pres. Palace. He didn’t smile when I joked about it.

— Bill Neely (@BillNeelyNBC) July 16, 2018

If Putin had implanted a listening device, it would be far from the first time the Russians have bugged the Americans. In 1952, it was discovered a U.S. replica seal, given by the Russians as a gift years before, contained a listening device. At one point during the Cold War, the U.S. embassy in Moscow was home to 120 Soviet-era bugs.

The same day the transmitter chip was discovered in the soccer ball, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was grilled by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about Trump's past meetings with North Korea and Russia. During numerous contentious back-and-forth exchanges with senators, Pompeo defended the president's private meetings with both countries and tried to reassure lawmakers Trump believes top intelligence officials' assessments that Putin interfered in the 2016 elections, despite past denials.

For the first time since President Trump met with leaders from North Korea and Russia, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced questions from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. @nickschifrin reports.

— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) July 25, 2018

This story has been updated to include Adidas' decline to comment and Pompeo's testimony to senators on Wednesday.

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