Belgium’s soccer authorities say they are awaiting word from FIFA on cybersecurity measures following fears expressed by England’s Football Association (FA) regarding potential activity by Russian hackers at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The FA had expressed concern to the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) that Russian hackers could leak the preparations and tactics of national teams during the World Cup. The spokesman of Belgium’s football union, URBSFA, Pierre Cornez, said on Wednesday that the union was waiting to hear from FIFA on steps it would take to ensure cybersecurity.
Belgium, which booked its ticket to Russia 10 days ago by beating Greece, is one of eight teams that have already qualified for the World Cup. The Belgian federation has thus begun its preparations for the event, but has not yet studied the issue of cybersecurity, which is not considered a top priority at this stage.
“FIFA has not yet informed us on the dangers it represents,” Cornez said. “The issue will probably be discussed at the draw on the 1st of December, when all the participants are known. As is usual for these big events, trainings and workshops will be organized by FIFA.”
In the meantime, England’s FA, solidly at the head of its group, has taken the lead. It will ban players and staff from using the Internet connection at Russian hotels and will set up its own connection system.
For their part, Belgium’s Red Devils have selected the Moscow Country Club as their base camp.
“Cybersecurity was not really among our selection criteria,” Cornez said. “We’re going to do everything to make sure the World Cup takes place in perfect conditions.”
While the Belgian union did not have any cyber security problems at Euro 2016 in France, the English FA has been on high alert ever since a Russian team of hackers, Fancy Bears, leaked confidential emails between FIFA and FA officials on four anti-doping tests last August.