The press officer for F.C. Twente, a professional soccer club in the Netherlands, received a telephone call one morning last month while driving to work. A colleague had just seen a strange post on Twitter.
But this was no ordinary social media crisis for a sports team. Rather, Twente, based in Enschede, had become the latest target of a group that has suddenly disrupted professional soccer around the world with tactics that are reminiscent of WikiLeaks. The group has published private documents related to soccer clubs in Portugal, England, Spain, France, Luxembourg and Monaco, among others.
In the case of Twente, the website known as Football Leaks had published documents showing financial agreements between the team and an agency with a variety of soccer interests, including a controversial player-investment business. The documents, which were never meant to be released publicly, appeared to portray a relationship that was at best unsavory and at worst in violation of national and international soccer regulations.