The world’s most valuable trophy is up for grabs in Qatar this winter in what is shaping up to be the most expensive World Cup in tournament history.
The World Cup is a huge badge of honor and a point of pride for many countries, whether they’re looking to add to their collection of wins or finally join the elusive club of victors. In addition to the pride and national honor, these players are competing for a chance to hoist the famed World Cup trophy.
Here are 10 facts about the World Cup trophy:
The original trophy was named after former FIFA president, Jules Rimet
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The trophy was originally named “Victory” before being renamed in 1944 after Jules Rimet, the third President of FIFA. The inaugural World Cup was held under Rimet’s tenure and he is often credited as being the creator of the tournament.
The Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen … twice
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on FIFA.
In the months leading up to the 1966 World Cup in England, the Jules Rimet Trophy was on display at the Stanley Gibbons Stampex rare stamp collection exhibit in Westminster. Accounts vary on how the thief bypassed security, but the trophy vanished in plain sight.
When Joe Mears, chairman of the Football Association, received a ransom note demanding £15,000, the police dispatched a team to the meetup site and arrested Edward Betchley, a petty thief who claimed that he was simply the middleman.
Betchley was in custody, but a week went by and the trophy was still nowhere to be found. David Corbett, a local lighterman, was out for a walk with his dog Pickles when the Collie took note of a package in the bushes nearby. The trophy was returned and Pickles was immortalized with countless honors and a loyal fanbase.
Nearly two decades later, the trophy went missing again… this time for good, without the heroics of Pickles. The trophy, settling in Brazil since 1970, was stolen in the middle of the night and rumored to have been melted down into gold bars, despite not being pure gold.
The World Cup trophy is permanently stored at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich, Switzerland
While the federation still fell victim to theft after the Pickles event, they had the wherewithal to create a replica before the second incident.
The trophy is now permanently stored at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich, Switzerland. It does leave for rare occasions including the World Cup trophy tour, the draw for the next World Cup, the tournament’s opening game and of course, the Finals.
The winning countries used to keep the trophy until the next tournament, but now they get a bronze replica
Just because the trophy no longer embarks on a world tour, doesn’t mean the winning country goes home empty-handed.
Instead, FIFA has a bronze replica that is gifted to the winning country.
The World Cup trophy measures 14.5 inches tall, 13.5 pounds and is made of 18-karat gold
The most valuable trophy in the world is surprisingly small compared to the likes of the Stanley Cup and Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Measuring at 14.5 inches and 13.5 pounds, the trophy is easily held by players.
It is believed to be hollow
It’s never been confirmed, but all signs point to a hollow trophy. Experts say that a dense trophy of solid gold would be far too heavy for even some of the best athletes in the world to hoist, leaving many to believe that the trophy is in fact hollow.
It is considered to be the most expensive sports trophy in the world at an estimated value of $20 million
There isn’t a clear-cut list for the most expensive sports trophies in the world, but the World Cup trophy is consistently believed to be the most valuable… and it’s not particularly close at around $20 million.
The next most valuable trophy -- horse racing’s Woodlawn Vase -- checks out at a mere $2.5 million.
The names of the winning countries are inscribed in their native language on the bottom of the trophy
Unlike the Stanley Cup -- which features the names of every member of the winning team -- the relatively small size of the World Cup trophy requires some creativity. Rather, the name of the championship country is inscribed on the bottom of the trophy in the native language of the winner.
There was a mix-up, however, in 2006, when the trophy was inscribed with “Spain” instead of “España.”
The trophies have featured the Greek Goddess Nike and two human figures
The original trophy -- named Victory -- featured Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory, balancing a gold cup on her head. The current trophy features two abstract humans lifting the globe.
The current trophy was produced by an Italian trophy manufacturer
Brazil outright won the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1970, leaving FIFA scrambling for a worthy replacement. GDE Bertoni, a trophy and medal manufacturer from Milan, ultimately won the bid with a design by sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga, beating out a field of 52 other submissions.
GDE Bertoni is one of the premier trophy shops. In addition to the World Cup trophy, they’ve produced trophies and medals for the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and the Olympic Order, the highest award in the Olympic movement.