English Football Association: Cyber security for 2018 Russia World Cup strengthened

By George Gros director and football intermediary VII Law London UK

The Governing Body of English Football, the Football Association (FA), has announced that it will strengthen its cyber security before and during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which is to be held in Russia.

This development follows hacks by ‘Fancy Bears’, who are believed to be a Russian group, into football’s anti-doping procedures, including an e-mail sent in May of this year to FIFA by the FA’s head of integrity, Jenni Kennedy, relating to four anti-doping cases.

The FA fears that e-mails, especially ones containing team selection and tactical information, of leading officials, including the English Team Manager, Gareth Southgate, and other coaching staff, are vulnerable to attacks from ‘Fancy Bears’ and have, therefore, strengthened firewalls and encrypted passwords.

The FA is also warning members of the England team, which is most likely to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, about their use of social media, including posting photographs, which may reveal their locations or other tactical details. They are also being advised not to use WIFI in airports, cafes or hotels in Russia.

Furthermore, wherever the England team members and support staff stay, their computer equipment will have sophisticated anti-hacking software installed.

According to media reports, ‘Fancy Bears’ are believed to be acting in revenge for the ban on Russian athletes competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, following revelations of State-sponsored and systemic doping.

The FA is not taking any chances about possible cyber ‘spying’, which may gain competitors unfair sporting advantages in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Tournament, and, in my opinion, the FA is entirely right in doing so!

George Gros may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ggros@viilaw.com’