In the world of sports, no legend is more interesting than the history behind the World Cup of soccer. This vessel of victory has been around for almost a hundred years and it has an intriguing past. The World Cup of soccer has lasted through generations of soccer fans and will continue to be a symbol of the utmost challenge and triumph in sportsmanship for generations to come. Here’s a little of the history behind the World Cup of soccer and how it got its various names.
Starting in 1930, the World Cup of Soccer was known as the “Jules Rimet Trophy” so-named for the man who was the first president of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). It was a beautiful one of a kind trophy designed by the French Sculptor, Abel Lafleur, who gave it a gold-plated sterling silver finish on a lapis lazuli (blue natural stone) base. The design included a representation of the ancient Greek goddess of victory “Nike”, thus it was originally named “Victory”. Over time, the award was engraved with the names of the nine winners of the World Cup championship soccer games. In 1946, the trophy was re-named “Jules Rimet Trophy”, but had also been called the “Coupe du Monde”.
But that’s not where the history of the World Cup ends. During World War II, for fear of it being stolen by German Nazi troops that had occupied the region where it was stored, the then Italian-born president of FIFA, Dr. Barassi, hid “Victory” under his bed in a shoebox for several years. Despite his heroic efforts to preserve the trophy, in 1966, the trophy disappeared while on display in England in a public exhibition at Westminster Central Hall. It was found seven days later, buried under a tree in a suburban garden in South Norwood, a good distance away, dug up by a little dog named “Pickles”. To this day, no one knows why it was stolen or who was the culprit behind the heist.
In 1970, the trophy was won a third time by Brazil’s soccer team and was stored in the nation’s capital, Rio De Janeiro. However, once again it was subject to a theft in 1973 when it came up missing and was never again to be seen by anyone, including soccer fans. Rumor has it; the trophy was melted down for its precious metals. However, we will never know for sure how Victory met her untimely escape from the world of sports.
That is not the end of the World Cup’s venture to the hallowed halls of soccer fame. In 1974, a new World Cup trophy was created to replace the former and was presented to the captain of the winning West Germany team, Franz Beckenbauer. The design of the newer trophy was picked from over fifty designs that were submitted to the FIFA by experts from the seven continents. The winning design is a solid 18 carat gold swirling statue with a double-row malachite base. It was designed by Italian sculptor, Silvio Gazzaniga, who has gone on to design several other famous sports world trophies for soccer and baseball.
Today, the World Cup is known simply as the FIFA World Cup Trophy, but soccer fans sometimes still refer to it as “Victory” in honor of the previous trophy. Only five countries have won it so far, the most recent being Italy, but there are enough spaces for the winning teams names to be engraved onto its base until the year 2038.