The FIFA World Cup Trophy has become the most sought after and most recognised sports prize in the world and can truly claim a universality unique to the sport of football.
However, the current Trophy is actually the second generation of the coveted prize. The first Trophy, named the Jules Rimet Cup in 1946 after the founding father of the FIFA World Cup, was commissioned by FIFA to French sculptor Abel Lafleur. The Trophy was a depiction of the goddess of victory holding an octagonal vessel above her, produced in gold with a base of semi-precious stones.
The Jules Rimet Cup had an eventful history, beginning with a tenure hidden in a box under a bed during World War II. It was stolen in 1966 while on display in England. With the help of a small dog named Pickles, the famed English detectives of Scotland Yard were able to retrieve the Trophy which was hidden in a suburban garden.
At that time, FIFA regulations stated that any nation winning the FIFA World Cup three times would become permanent owners of the Trophy. Brazil did just that, taking home the Trophy in 1970 only to have tragedy follow. In 1983, the Trophy was again stolen in Rio de Janeiro, never to be seen again. It is widely believed that it was melted down by thieves.
In the early 1970s, FIFA commissioned a new Trophy for the tenth FIFA World Cup, which was to take place in 1974. Fifty-three designs were submitted to FIFA by experts from seven countries, with the final choice being the work of Italian artist Silvio Gazzaniga.
Gazzaniga described his creation thus: "The lines spring out from the base, rising in spirals, stretching out to receive the world. From the remarkable dynamic tensions of the compact body of the sculpture rise the figures of two athletes at the stirring moment of victory."
The original FIFA World Cup Trophy cannot be won outright anymore, as the new regulations state that it shall remain FIFA's own possession. Instead, the FIFA World Cup winners are awarded a replica which they get to keep as a permanent reminder of their great triumph. These gold-plated replicas are referred to as the FIFA World Cup Winners' Trophies.
The authentic, one-of-a-kind FIFA World Cup Trophy is 36.8cm (14.5 inches) high, 6,175g (13.61 pounds) heavy, and made of 18-carat gold. The base contains two layers of semi-precious malachite while the bottom side of the Trophy bears the engraved year and name of each FIFA World Cup winner since 1974.