The History Of The World Cup Trophy

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World Cup 2018 is finally here. 32 teams (736 players in total) will compete to win the FIFA World Cup Trophy across 64 games, in 12 stadiums in 11 Russian cities.

Each team wants to win the most prestigious prize in football, the World Cup Trophy, standing at 14.5 inches tall and weighs 13.5 pounds, is estimated to be worth a staggering $20 million. To put this in perspective, the Lombardi Trophy, given to the winners of the annual Super Bowl is worth a just over a paltry $4,000 in comparison. Even the venerated Stanley Cup, given to the NHL’s winners, is worth only just over $23,000.

You might remember the line from the famous Three Lions song, “Jules Rimet Still Gleaming” and wonder what happened to that trophy?

In a great piece from CNBC, they take us through how the trophy situation has evolved over the decades and how FIFA ditched the Jules Rimet trophy.

When Brazil won the World Cup for a record third time in 1970, they thus won the Jules Rimet trophy in perpetuity (i.e. forever). The reason for this was that Rimet, a former FIFA President had said that the first team to win the World Cup three times could keep the trophy. He likely never thought this would happen as he made the promise in 1930.

The first World Cup, in 1930, saw the “Victory” trophy (or “Coupe du Monde”) given to winners Uruguay, created by French sculptor Abel Lafleur. The trophy was gold-plated sterling silver, with the bottom made from marble, depicting a 30cm-tall statuette of the Greek goddess of victory, Nike.

In 1946, the trophy was renamed the Jules Rimet trophy, as he was the architect for the idea of the World Cup.

The trophy, regardless of its name, had many escapades.

After Italy won it in 1938, and with the onset of World War II, Ottorino Barassi, Vice-President of FIFA at the time, and also President of the Italian FA, the FIGC, hid Victory in a shoe box, which he kept under his bed, to keep it away from Nazi hands.

In 1966, in England, the Jules Rimet trophy was stolen from a public exhibition, only to be found seven days later, by Pickles the dog, by a park bench (which I’ll detail in a post on its own).

Most notoriously of all, 13 years after Brazil won the cup for keeps, in 1983, it was stolen forever, and never, ever recovered.

The Current World Cup Trophy

On the 5 April 1971, FIFA decided to tender a request for the creation of a new World Cup trophy. A worldwide competition in which 53 designs, from 25 nations, began. By January 1972, FIFA decided that The World Cup Trophy, as we now know it, would be the winner. It was designed in 1974 by Silvio Gazzaniga, an Italian artist (who sadly died in 2016).

Silvio Gazzaniga on his world cup design:

“If I ever have to re-create it, I would not make any changes to the original. The fact that the trophy still endures today in this changing world of fashions is a testament to the fact that I was inspired by beautiful symbols and universal principles that became part of my creation”

For each World Cup, The Trophy is made in Paderno Dugnano, Italy (with Milan nearby) by GDE Bertoni (see this excellent background on the process of making the Cup). Previously, winners of the Trophy held onto the original Trophy for the four years between World Cups. However, by World Cup 2006 in Germany, it was decided that a copy of the original Cup would be given to winners (they get to lift the original after the final is over). Did you know that the winner country’s name is inscribed on the bottom of the trophy?

Incredibly enough Gazzaniga actually designed the iconic and current Europa League Trophy, as well as the UEFA Super Cup.

However, will the World Cup Trophy become a thing of the past, just like the Jules Rimet trophy? Stranger things have happened, especially as the bottom of the trophy, where names are inscribed, only has space for 17 winners’ names in total. This means that the Trophy will be given to the winners up until 2038, so will we see a new trophy after that?