The Cup of Joy - History of the World Cup trophy

With Coca-Cola FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour to reach India on 22nd December, the world’s most coveted trophy has its own special story to tell...

The year was 1970. Brazil, on account of their victory over Italy in the final of the tournament, had gain perpetual control over the Jules Rimet trophy. It would be stationed in Brazil thereafter, which was in accord with stipulations sanctioned by Rimet himself in 1930. A new trophy therefore would have to be crafted.

Having commissioned the replacement trophy, FIFA was to receive a record 53 submissions from sculptors in seven countries around the world. The commission was finally granted to Italian sculptor Silvio Gazzanigga. Unlike the Jules Rimet trophy, the current edition is simply called the ‘FIFA World Cup Trophy.’

Asked to describe his creation in his own words, the now-famous sculptor expounded, “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.”

Gazzanigga’s description wasn’t far off in ascertaining the sheer magnificence of the Cup. The trophy itself is 36.5 centimetres (cms) tall. It weighs a modest 6.175 Kilograms (kgs), 5 kgs out of which is a mixture of 18 carat solid gold of 75% purity and the base, which constitutes the rest, is made of semi-precious malachite in two layers. The base is 13 cms in diameter. Whilst a common theory floats that the trophy is not hollow and it is in fact a solid figure, experts have disserted that had it been so, the trophy would have been an estimated 70-to-80 kgs, which would prove too heavy to carry.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari holds a replica of the FIFA World Cup Jules Rimet trophy

The two figurines on the trophy are depicted holding the Earth. "FIFA World Cup” has been engraved on the base of the trophy, but it is not only for this reason that the trophy is special to the winning team. Following a tradition, the name of the winning team alongside the year in which the trophy was won by a side is engraved at the bottom of the trophy in the winning team’s national language – for example “2010 Espana” or “1974 Deutschland”. The names however aren’t visible when the trophy stands upright.

Franz Beckenbauer was the first captain to lift the trophy for West Germany in 1974 and he was followed by Argentina skipper Daniel Pasarella in ’78, Dino Zoff for Italy in ‘82, Diego Maradona for Argentina in ‘86, West Germany's Lothar Matthaus in ‘90, Dunga for Brazil in ’94, Didier Deschamps in ’98 for France, Brazilian Cafu in 2002, Fabio Cannavaro for Italy in ’06 and finally Iker Casillas for Spain in 2010.

It is widely believed that a new trophy may have to be made post the completion of the 2038 World Cup tournament as all the name plaques at the bottom of the trophy are expected to be exhausted. Also as per FIFA’s officially drafted regulations, winning nations are no longer allowed to keep the trophy outright, unlike it’s predecessor. The victor is gifted a gold-plated replica. 

The FIFA World Cup trophy in its current avatar maintains most of the hallowed presence its predecessor carried forth. So special is the trophy that Fabio Cannavaro actually slept with it, savouring the night of victory. It was also reported later, that the Italian also bore to witness the green malachite “dropping off”, needing it to be glued back on.

To prevent the same fate from befalling the trophy, as per what happened to the Rimet trophy, it is kept closely guarded by FIFA.

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