Football Association fear that Russian hackers will spy on Gareth Southgate's World Cup tactics
England fear Russian hackers will attempt to break into computers containing Gareth Southgate’s tactical masterplan during next summer’s World Cup. Concerns confidential data may be vulnerable to cyber-attack at the tournament has prompted the Football Association to invest heavily in improving its IT defences in time for the Three Lions’ matches there. It is common for Southgate and his staff to store strategic information on laptops and tablets, information which could be used against England to devastating effect in Russia next year if it fell into the wrong hands. The threat had already been identified before Russian hacking group Fancy Bears leaked the medical files of dozens of footballers last month, including those of former Premier League stars Carlos Tevez, Dirk Kuyt and Gabriel Heinze. The FA fears that the England staff's laptops could be vulnerable to hacking Credit: EYEEM Also leaked was correspondence between the FA and Fifa about ongoing investigations into alleged doping in the English game. The FA has since written to Fifa to express concern about the hack, which appeared to be of files the world governing body would have held on its own database. In a bid not to fall victim to a similar attack during the World Cup, the FA will also issue strict guidance to players and support staff ahead of the tournament. All members of the England party will be warned not to use public wifi networks and will be given advice on their use of social media sites from a cyber-security perspective. The ease with which such websites could be hacked was laid bare last month after a post appeared on Real Madrid’s official Twitter account welcoming Lionel Messi to the club and Barcelona’s account was hijacked to announce the signing of Angel Di Maria from Paris Saint-Germain. The FA has contacted Fifa about earlier hacks Credit: AFP Those incidents were dismissed as pranks, something that would not have been the case had any tactical or other confidential information been obtained as a result of the hacks. Earlier this year, the St Louis Cardinals were punished after being found to have broken into the email system and scouting database of Major League Baseball rivals the Houston Astros. Sporting history is also littered with scandals of when teams have resorted to espionage to gain an edge. The most infamous of those was even branded ‘Spygate’ and saw the McLaren Formula One team hit with the biggest fine in sporting history - $100 million - after being found in possession of confidential information from Ferrari. Another spying row ended up in court this year when a former security consultant for New Zealand’s rugby union team was acquitted of lying to police over the discovery of a listening device in the team’s hotel ahead of their Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia. No evidence was found that any sensitive information had been passed to the Wallabies, who were themselves the alleged victims of spying ahead of their World Cup encounter with England two years ago in a brief controversy that also came to nought.