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Data Leaks in Football

The success of football business relies heavily on data security. Indeed, data compromising may affect player transfers, financial performance of clubs, and even fan loyalty. This is a digest of data leaks in football prepared by InfoWatch Analytical Center.

In late 2017, Lionel Messi, a winner of five Ballon d’Or awards, signed a new contract with FC Barcelona. However, shortly after the New Year, the whistleblowing platform Football Leaks, jointly with Spiegel, revealed that, judging by the terms of the contract, Messi will become the first football player ever to make €100+ million a season. Moreover, if the Argentinian takes to the field for at least 60 percent of all team’s matches over the next four years, then he will land an average annual income of €106 million. Plus, if Messi becomes the FIFA World Player of the Year for the sixth time, then he will earn extra €16 million.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, newly transferred to FC Arsenal (London), accidentally leaked Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s move to Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund. In Arsenal’s photoshoot video posted online, Mkhitaryan said: “Yo, Pierre, you wanna come out here?” Apparently, he addressed Aubameyang who was standing nearby waiting for his turn. At the time, Aubameyang’s transfer was still being negotiated.

Players’ shirts bearing sponsor logos generate significant profits, making information about team’s kit quite valuable. Even though clubs often leak such information intentionally to heighten public interest, accidental leaks may happen as well. For example, Real Madrid’s Nacho Fernández uploaded a picture of himself on Instagram wearing the third kit of his team for the 2017/18 season, that was not officially announced yet. The post was soon deleted, but the fans managed to save screenshots.

Moreover, hackers also try to influence the world of football. Last year, Fancy Bears hackers broke into the database of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and found out about many football players taking prohibited substances. Thus, 350 players were caught doping over the period from 2015 to 2016 alone.

As a result of an email scam, Lazio, a Roma's football club, lost €2 million. Lazio received an email demanding that sum for Stefan de Vrij, a centre-back from the Dutch Feyenoord, to join the club. After Lazio transferred money into a bank account provided by the sender, it became clear that money went to hackers.