World Cup 2010 – Spain vs Netherlands, why isn’t the World Cup a cup? – With the title trophy being awarded later today for the first time to either Spain or Netherlands at the FIFA World Cup 2010 South Africa, some fans of the 4-week international soccer tournament ask when they see the prized trophy — why isn’t the World Cup an actual cup? The answer is that it used to be, but it isn’t now — and that isn’t the end of the mysteries about this coveted athletic trophy.
Since 1930, there have been two official designs of World Cup trophies. The trophies, as well as several approved replicas, have also had an illustrious and complicated history.
Jules Rimet trophy:
According to a recounting in the Los Angeles Times, for the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay, FIFA commissioned French sculptor, Abel LaFleur to design the trophy for its international soccer/football tournament. The original trophy, named for Jules Rimet, a former FIFA president, depicted the Greek goddess of victory, Nike, holding up an octagonal-shaped cup. The trophy stood 14″ tall and was made of 18 kt gold plated over sterling silver on a base of blue lapis lazuli. Uruguay won the cup in 1930 and was allowed to keep it in its country until the next tournament.
The plan was that if a country won the cup three times, the trophy would be won outright and kept by that country for good. The trophy would be retired and a new one commissioned. When Italy won the cup in 1934 and again in 1938, there was fear when war broke out in 1939 that the Nazis would get hold of the cup and keep it. Ottorino Barassi, an Italian vice president of FIFA, took the Cup trophy from a Rome bank and hid it in a shoe box beneath his bed until the war was over.
In 1966, the World Cup was to be played in England, and the trophy was exhibited under guard in London in March. The cup was stolen out of the back of its exhibit case but later found underneath a hedge wrapped in newspaper. The find was made by a dog named Pickles, who made headlines around the world. The cup was recovered and authenticated in time for Queen Elizabeth II to present it to the captain of the England team after it defeated Germany in the finals that July.
A hitch develops in the England theft story when the first known replica of the trophy enters its history. England’s Football Association secretly had a replica of the trophy made before the stolen cup was recovered. After presentation of the authentic cup, police seized the original trophy out of the English team’s locker room and the replica was used to take around England in celebrations instead.
In 1970, England gave the original trophy to the new winner, Brazil, which had now won it 3 times. Under the rules, the trophy belonged to Brazil permanently, which was how the original sculptor wanted it. However, in 1983 the original Rimet trophy was stolen out of the Brazilian soccer federation headquarters in Rio de Janeiro and has not been seen since. Many people believe it was melted down. The federation commissioned its own replica by Eastman Kodak made of nearly 4 lbs. of gold. The replica was presented to the Brazilian president in 1984.
FIFA World Cup trophy:
The trophy we shall see awarded on July 11, 2010 in South Africa was designed in 1974 by Italian artist Silvio Gazzaniga, who won the assignment from 53 submissions. It stands 14.4 inches tall, is made of 18 kt gold, and stands on two layers of malachite. The design is of two people reaching up holding the earth. According to FIFA.com, Mr. Gazzaniga described his design, “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.”
Underneath the base where they cannot be seen when the trophy is standing upright are engraved the names of the winning countries in their own languages and the years they won. The rules have been changed now so that the trophy does not get retired. Instead, the original goes to the winning country each time until the next tournament when the former winning country gets a replica to keep.
This does not, however, mean that there are not other replicas of the new trophy floating around as well. Nelson Mandela, for example, was presented with a replica.
So, why isn’t the World Cup trophy a cup? Well, the first one was, but it was retired under FIFA rules, then lost, and the sculptor of the second one chose a different design. That’s basically it!
Interestingly, the BBC is reporting that the new trophy cannot be made of solid gold, as some claim. The article cites chemistry professor Martyn Poliakoff of Nottingham University claiming the trophy must be at least partially hollow or it would be too heavy for the captain of the winning football team to lift above his head in triumph.
The AP is reporting Sunday morning that 700 million people are expected to watch the title match July 11 on televisions around the world. Will the Spanish or Dutch football captain lift an original or a replica of the World Cup-that’s-no-longer-a-cup? We’ll all have to watch and see.
[Photo: Bottom–replica of Jules Rimet World Cup trophy / Reindertot]
Comment below: What do you think of the World Cup trophy’s eventful history? Do you think it should still be in the shape of an actual cup, or do you not care at all about this as long as your favorite team wins? Let us know your thoughts in the Comment Section!
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Connie Ann Kirk is a published author of 10 books and holds a Ph.D. in English. She is currently working on a novel and a screenplay. See all of Connie’s Arts & Entertainment columns at these pages: National Books on Film Examiner , National Literature Examiner, and National Young Adult Pop Culture Examiner . Feel free any time to also check out her website.
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