The FIFA World Cup Trophy is arguably one of the most iconic prizes in the sporting world. One can also claim that it is arguably the most coveted piece of metal after an Olympics Gold medal. The World Cup trophy has featured in some of the most memorable photos in international soccer history.
The image of Maradona lifting the trophy following the win over West Germany in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico is imprinted on the minds of almost every soccer fan.
However, modern soccer fans might not be aware that the World Cup trophy hasn’t always looked the same. So far, two different trophies have been used in the history of the FIFA World Cups. And we will likely get to witness a new trophy design in the future. In this feature, we will look at the origins and history of this famous piece of the prize.
The Jules Rimet Trophy
The Jules Rimet Trophy was the first trophy awarded to the winners of the FIFA World Cups. This trophy was awarded to the winners from 1930 to 1970. Initially, the old trophy was originally named ‘Victory.’ During the initial years, this trophy was identified as the World Cup or Coupe du Monde.
However, this trophy was renamed the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1946. This change was done to honor former FIFA president Jules Rimet, who voted to organize the first FIFA World Cup in 1930. The French football administrator was the third President of FIFA, from 1921 to 1954, and passed away in 1956.
French sculptor Abel Lafleur designed the Jules Rimet trophy in 1930. The trophy was 14 inches (35 cm) in height and weighed 8.4 lbs (3.80 kgs). The famous prize was made of gold-plated sterling silver, and it had a blue base made of lapis lazuli stone. The trophy was comprised of a winged representation of Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory.
The figure of Nike sat on an octagonal block of stone. Before the 1954 World Cup, this base was replaced with a taller version to allow names of new winning nations.
The trophy was eventually retired when Brazil won the World Cup final for the third time in 1970. Following their success in Mexico, Brazil was allowed to keep the trophy permanently, as per the plans laid out by Jules Rimet.
Where Is The Trophy?
The Jules Rimet Trophy had had quite a fascinating history. When World War II broke out, Italy was the current world champion. So Ottorino Barassi, who was vice-President of FIFA and President of Italy’s football federation, took it upon himself to hide the trophy from the clutches of the Nazis. Barassi hid the trophy in a shoebox under his bed while the war raged in most of Europe.
The old trophy’s exciting journey didn’t end there as it ended up being stolen on a couple of occasions. The first incident took place in England ahead of the 1966 World Cup. The Jules Rimet Trophy was put on a public exhibition at Westminster Central Hall on 20 March 1966, when the theft took place.
However, a week later, the famous prize was discovered, wrapped in a newspaper under bushes in South London, by a black & white collie mongrel named Pickles. Pickles and his owner David Corbett, went on to attract nationwide fame throughout England and the world. Corbett received a reward of 3,000 pounds sterling. Until his death in 1973, Pickles was a national celebrity.
And In Brazil
The second theft took place while the Victory trophy was in Brazil’s custody. After Brazil received the guardianship of the trophy, it was kept on public display in a bulletproof case at the Brazilian Football Confederation headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. Even though four men were convicted of the crime, the 3.8kg trophy was never recovered. It is widely believed that the gold-plated sterling silver trophy has been melted and sold.
In 1984, the Brazilian Confederation ordered a replica of the Jules Rimet trophy made by Eastman Kodak. The trophy of 4 lb (1.8 kgs) of gold was presented to then-president João Figueiredo.
FIFA World Cup Trophy
Following the retirement of the Jules Rimet Trophy, FIFA needed a new cup. The soccer’s governing body invited proposals and received submissions from fifty-three sculptors from seven different countries. Eventually, Italian artist Silvio Gazzaniga’s design was selected by FIFA as their new World Cup trophy.
It was manufactured by Bertoni, Milano – a trophy and medals manufacturer based in Milan, in 1971. The new famous prize depicts two human figures holding the earth on top of their heads. In the words of Gazzaniga, “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”.
This trophy is still in use and is a familiar sight for soccer fans.
The actual size of the gold trophy is 14.4 inches (36.5 cms) in height and consists of 13.61 lb (6.175 kgs) of 18-carat gold. It stands on a base that consists of two layers of malachite and is 5.1 inches (13 cms) in diameter. In 2018, the value of the World Cup trophy was estimated at US$161,000.
The base of the trophy has ‘FIFA World Cup’ engraved. Furthermore, following every World Cups, the name of the winning team and the winning year is also engraved at the base. These inscriptions are done in the national language of the winning country.
Is It Solid Gold?
The weight of the FIFA World Cup trophy is 6.175kg. (13.61 pounds). The weight of the Jules Rimet trophy was 3.80 kilograms (8.38 pounds)
Many experts believe the new trophy is hollow. According to them, if it were solid gold, the trophy would weigh 70–80 kilograms (150–180 lb) and would be too heavy for the winning nation to lift.
FIFA has framed new rules regarding the guardianship of the trophy. Unlike the Jules Rimet Trophy, the winning nations and future winners don’t get to hold the original trophy anymore. Instead, they are given a gold-plated bronze replica provided by FIFA. West Germany was the first nation to lift the modern World Cup trophy in 1974.
The new trophy can hold up to seventeen names and years, and it is likely to be retired following the 2038 World Cup. Unlike the Rimet Cup, which was passed from winning countries to the new winning nation, this one is FIFA’s permanent property.
What Countries Have Won The Trophy
So far, eight different nations have won the FIFA World Cup. Uruguay was the first nation to have won the Jules Rimet Trophy, or one can say a World Cup trophy of any kind. Overall, the Jules Rimet trophy has exchanged hands between five different nations.
As we mentioned before, Brazil is the only nation to have won the Jules Rimet trophy on three different occasions. Two countries, Uruguay, and Italy have laid their hands on this trophy on two occasions. Germany – West Germany at the time – and England have had the honor of lifting the trophy exactly once.
Jules Rimet Trophy
- Brazil – 1958, 1962, 1970
- Uruguay – 1930, 1950
- Italy – 1934, 1938
- West Germany – 1954
- England – 1966
Among the new trophy winners, only England and Uruguay have failed to win the current trophy. Germany is the most successful nation, having lifted the FIFA World Cup Trophy on three separate occasions. Two of these triumphs, 1974 and 1990, were credited to West Germany. West Germany was also the first country to lift the trophy in 1974.
Four nations have won the World Cup trophy on two occasions each – Argentina, Italy, Brazil, and France. Spain is the only nation to have won it once.
FIFA World Cup Trophy
Germany / West Germany – 1974, 1990, 2014
- Argentina – 1978, 1986
- Italy – 1982, 2006
- Brazil – 1994, 2002
- France – 1998, 2018
- Spain – 2010
Overall, Brazil is the most prosperous nation with five World Cup triumphs, followed by Germany and Italy with four each.
World Cup Trophy Facts
Here are some more interesting facts about the World Cup Trophy:
For the first World Cup in Uruguay, the Jules Rimet Trophy was transported on a Conte Verde ship, which departed from Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, on 21 June 1930. The same boat also carried squads of European nations France, Belgium, and Romania.
Following England’s success in 1966, the FA had a replica of the Jules Rimet Trophy made to use in exhibitions instead of the real one. However, the English Football Association was prohibited by FIFA from doing so. When the FA returned the original trophy in 1970, the replica was put away for years.
Eventually, it was put up for an auction in 1997 at the reserve price of £20,000–£30,000. By now, the original Jules Rimet Trophy had been stolen, and there were rumors that trophies were exchanged sometime between 1966 and 1970 and that the FA’s replica trophy was indeed the original one.
This compelled FIFA to buy the replica at the auction for an exorbitant price of £254,500. FIFA ended up giving the replica to Britain’s National Football Museum.
The original base of the Jules Rimet Trophy, replaced before the 1954 World Cup, was discovered by a FIFA staff member at the organization’s headquarters in 2014. The 4-inch long base is on display at the World Football Museum in Zurich.
The current World Cup trophy is believed to be made of solid gold. However, a British chemistry professor revealed that the trophy is likely to be hollow as a solid trophy weighs 154 lb (70 kgs).
FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour
In recent tournaments, FIFA, in conjunction with Coca-Cola, takes the new trophy around the world before the upcoming World Cup. It gives thousands of soccer fans the chance to experience football’s most coveted prize with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the trophy themselves.
Before the 2018 tournament, over 220,000 people across Russia and the world had the canoe to see the iconic trophy with their own eyes. I was fortunate to see it myself in 2018 while in Phuket, Thailand.
The 2022 Trophy Tour will stop in 51 countries and territories including the 32 teams who have qualified for the tournament. Former superstars Iker Casillas and Kaká will travel with the trophy around the globe.
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!