Russian President Vladimir Putin’s gift of a soccer ball to Donald Trump 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. 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.