The Fifa World Cup has a rich history that is as riveting as the many contests it has witnessed. Amid all the bravery, heartbreak and jubilation, the World Cup trophy itself has a fascinating story to tell.
The most iconic trophy in all sport that is instantly recognised all across the globe has lived a tumultuous existence. In fact, the trophy itself is not even 50 years old, even though the World Cup was first played in 1930.
To know more about the trophy, we need to go all the back to the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay.
Jules Rimet Trophy (1930-1970)
The first football World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930 and was made possible due to the efforts of Jules Rimet.
Rimet was the third president of Fifa and was instrumental in making the dream of a World Cup a reality. The trophy was created by French sculptor Abel Lafleur, 35cm in height and weighing 3.8kg. It was constructed with gold-plated sterling silver.
The trophy design featured a gold statuette of Nike - the Greek goddess of victory. Originally, the trophy was simply called 'Victory', and more popularly as the World Cup or Coupe du Monde.
In 1946, it was renamed the Jules Rimet Trophy in honour of the president. That the trophy survived was a miracle in itself. During World War II, the trophy was held by 1938 champions Italy. Italian vice-president of Fifa, Ottorino Barassi, took it upon himself to ensure the safety of the trophy, secretly removing it from the vault of a bank in Rome and hiding it in a shoebox under his bed during the entirety of the war.
Just four months before the 1966 World Cup in England, the trophy was stolen while on exhibition at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. Law enforcement agencies, including Scotland Yard, tried their best to recover the item but to no avail. One week after the theft, the trophy was randomly found wrapped in newspaper lying next to a parked car by a dog named Pickles who was out on a walk with his owner.
Pickles became a national hero, received a medal and reward for the discovery. Thanks to the heroic canine, England captain Bobby Moore got to lift the original Jules Rimet Trophy at Wembley Stadium after defeating West Germany in the final.
Trophy stolen again
Brazil won the World Cup for the third time in 1970 and were awarded the Jules Rimet Trophy permanently, as was the rule at the time. However, the original trophy was stolen for a second time in 1983 from the Brazilian Football Confederation headquarters in Rio de Janeiro and was never recovered.
Fifa World Cup Trophy (1974 - present)
After Brazil won the trophy permanently, a replacement was commissioned for the 1974 World Cup. Italian artist Silvio Gazzaniga's submission was accepted. The trophy design sees human figures spiral up towards a golden replica of the world. The trophy is hollow on the inside.
Following the debacle involving the Jules Rimet Trophy, it was decided that the original Fifa World Cup trophy can't be won outright anymore.
It remains in Fifa's possession at its Zurich headquarters and is taken out only for trophy tours, World Cup main draws and the final presentation. Winners of each World Cup are handed a gold-plated bronze replica, known as the World Cup Winners’ Trophy. They get to keep the replica.
How much does the World Cup trophy weigh?
The Fifa World Cup trophy is 6.175kg of 18 carat gold. It stands 36.5cm tall and has a circular base that is 13cm in diameter.
How much is it worth?
The value of the gold in the World Cup trophy itself is worth $250,000, according to current gold rates. Four years back, the original Fifa World Cup trophy was said to be worth $20 million according to some estimates, making it easily the most valuable trophy in sport.
Given the exponential growth in the sports memorabilia market after the pandemic, that value would have easily gone up by many multiples. The famous jersey worn by Argentine Diego Maradona when he scored the 'Hand of God' goal against England at the 1986 World Cup was sold for $7.1m in auction earlier this year.