‘That’s enough celebrating – now please give us our trophy back’

The Rio Report

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As German players posed with, kissed and hoisted one of the most coveted trophies in all of sport, it’s a fair assumption that many of the players had no idea their time with the historic 18-carat gem was running short.

Because just a few minutes after the German celebrations on the pitch ended, FIFA whisked away the trophy Germany worked so hard to win and locked it away.

That's right: only a gold-plated replica heads back to German soil. It seems like one of the biggest teases in sport.

The feeling of lifting six and a quarter kilograms of 75 percent pure 18-carat gold, and then watching that prized possession be taken and locked away for the next four years is heartbreaking - but Germany isn’t the first team to go through this loved-and-lost scenario. Since 1974, the winners of the World Cup have all walked away with replicas.

Why? Well, it’s because the trophy isn’t only coveted by the players, it’s also coveted by thieves.

In 2010, Cash4Gold, the world’s top public gold buyer, said the trophy was worth upwards of $10 million and its value continues to rise as the value of gold rises. Because of this, the trophy has been stolen twice and was once saved from thievery.

During World War II, Dr Ottorino Barassi, the Italian vice-president of FIFA, hid the original trophy – the Jules Rimet Cup – in a shoebox under his bed to keep it out of the hands of the Nazis. However, all that work was for naught because in 1966, the trophy was stolen in England while on display at a public exhibition in London.

Seven days later, the stolen trophy was found by a dog named Pickles, who was relieving himself on a bush when his owner saw the trophy wrapped in newspaper.

In 1970, the Jules Rimet Cup went to Brazil – permanently – after it won its third World Cup. The trophy we know today replaced the Jules Rimet Cup, and that prize was first handed out in 1974.

However, thieves were still very much in love with the old version and in 1983, the trophy was stolen from the Brazilian Football Confederation headquarters in Rio de Janeiro and never recovered. It is believed to have been melted down and sold.

So, understandably, FIFA has some trust issues when it comes to its fancy trophy and keeps it heavily guarded whenever it is on display, being celebrated with and even when it’s locked away for safe keeping.

But, each winner since 1974 has had its name engraved on the base of the real trophy. After Germany gets its engraving, there’s only room for three more names. It’s unknown what FIFA will do after it runs out of space in 2030 on what will be the 100th anniversary of the tournament.

So, Germany’s long-awaited rendezvous with the World Cup trophy lasted maybe a couple hours. Let’s hope they savoured it.

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Graham Watson, Yahoo!

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