The FIFA World Cup Trophy has become the most sought after and recognised sporting prize in the world and holds a universal appeal that is 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 in honour of the founding father of the FIFA World Cup™ – was commissioned from French sculptor Abel Lafleur by FIFA. The trophy was a depiction of the goddess of victory holding an octagonal vessel above her head, produced in gold with a base of semi-precious stones.
The Jules Rimet Cup had an eventful history, beginning with a period spent hidden in a box under a bed during World War II. It was later stolen in 1966 while on display in England. With the help of a 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 misfortune follow in 1983, when the Trophy was stolen in Rio de Janeiro, only this time it was 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 Italian artist Silvio Gazzaniga’s work ultimately winning the vote.
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 in FIFA's possession. Instead, the FIFA World Cup™ winners are awarded a replica which they get to keep as a permanent reminder of their great triumph. The gold-plated replica is referred to as the FIFA World Cup Winners’ Trophy.
The authentic, one-of-a-kind FIFA World Cup Trophy is 36.8cm (14.5 inches) tall, weighs in at 6,175g (13.61 pounds), and is made of 18-carat gold. The base contains two layers of semi-precious malachite while the underside of the trophy is engraved with the year and name of each FIFA World Cup™ winner since 1974. Following the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, the vertical alignment of the champions’ engraved names needed to be redesigned to fit future title holders. The list of world champions since 1974 was therefore rearranged into a spiral to accommodate the names of the winners of future editions of the tournament.