This is only my opinion, and not the representation of Saintel Daily, LLC.
You all remember the joint press conference that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump held a few weeks ago. But do you remember the soccer ball that Putin gave to Trump? It appeared like a gesture of goodwill, and it was especially relevant given that they met during the World Cup. But was there more to that gift than we realized? Maybe so. According to a Bloomberg report, the type of soccer ball that Putin gave to Trump actually has a chip inside it. The Adidas AG model comes with a built-in chip with a tiny antenna.
Of course, this is part of the design of the ball, but let’s not forget, Vladimir Putin is a former KGB foreign intelligence officer. So doing something like this wouldn’t be outside of the realm of possibilities. According to the Adidas website, the NFC chip is “passive and only sends out information”. What does that even mean? Regardless, though, there is potential for this chip to send out information to Russia, right under Trump’s nose. This kind of technology isn’t exactly new when it comes to sporting equipment. Many accessories (including balls) are “smart”. Meaning that they can help you understand how you’re interacting with that particular device, in order to make you a better player. Which makes you wonder if this was intentional on Putin’s part or just a gesture of goodwill?
My guess is the former. Why? Well, a smart soccer ball is going to cost more. And I’m not saying that Russia doesn’t have enough money to buy a smart soccer ball, I just think from an optics perspective, why buy a smart soccer ball, when a plain old soccer ball would do the trick? Bloomberg disagrees slightly indicating that the chip itself isn’t a spy device but rather an advertised feature of the Adidas AG ball. That may be so, but at the same time, should we believe that Putin didn’t alter the ball with his own device?
Let’s assume that the ball hasn’t been modified. I feel like I have to go back to the argument that he could have given him any old World Cup ball, so why did it have to be a smart ball? Trump, of course, believes that Putin would never do such a thing, and cried out “fake news”. I’ve said this before and will continue to say it – the president “doth protest too much”. I mean, the only things that he considers fake, is actually likely factual information.
Lastly, I have to say it. This feels a bit like a “fool me once” type of situation. Last month when he met with Kim Jong Un, he was under the impression that Kim was halting his nuclear energy program. But a few weeks after he left, we found out that he’s still stockpiling uranium. Now, Trump is getting close (publicly) with Putin and it seems like he’s going to get the wool pulled over his eyes yet again. I’m trying not to make too many analogies here, but it feels a bit like when George W. Bush made his “fool me once” remarks. Not only does he not understand what’s going on, he’s clueless about how these situations are even an issue. I am sure more will come from this in the next few months. There may even be more news after Putin visits the White House.