Soccer is one of the world’s most popular sports with approximately 3.5 billion fans globally.
It was in Uruguay, in 1930, that the very first FIFA World Cup was held. It has occurred once every four years since then (except in 1942 and 1946 due to World War II).
This year, 92 years after its start, the 22nd FIFA World Cup tournament is scheduled to take place in Qatar. The highly anticipated event involves 32 national teams that will compete to win one of the most prestigious titles and a historic trophy.
So, what is the coveted FIFA World Cup trophy made up of?
The History and Composition of FIFA World Cup Trophies
Since its debut in the first FIFA World Cup tournament, in 1930, there have been two iterations of the World Cup trophy. Both trophies were made with a combination of metals and rare stones.
Until 1970, the Jules Rimet Trophy, designed by the French sculptor Abel Lafleur, glorified the winning team. A redesigned version of the trophy by Silvio Gazzaniga replaced the original in the 1974 FIFA World Cup tournament.
The Jules Rimet Trophy
Commonly called the Coupe du Monde (French for World Cup), the Jules Rimet trophy was officially renamed in 1946, honoring the then FIFA president Jules Rimet on his 25th Anniversary in office.
The trophy had a height of 35cm and weighed 3.8kg. It was made of gold-plated sterling silver and featured Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory, holding an octagonal cup. The base of the trophy was made from a semi-precious stone called lapis lazuli. Golden plates were attached to each side of the base and they held the names of the winning teams from 1930 to 1970.
Since the beginning, it was agreed that the first team to win the World Cup three times would get to permanently keep the trophy. In 1970, Brazil marked its third victory by beating Italy in the finals and took the Jules Rimet trophy home.
However, in 1983, the trophy that even survived World War 2 was stolen from the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) headquarters in Rio de Janeiro and was never found. The only original piece of the Jules Rimet trophy in existence is the base that was replaced in 1954 to accommodate more winning-team names.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy
After handing over Abel Lafleur’s original trophy to Brazil in 1970, FIFA held a design competition in search of a new World Cup trophy. The association received 53 submissions from seven countries and Silvio Gazzaniga’s design of two human figures holding the Earth in their hands won the competition.
This new trophy is 36.5cm tall and weighs 6.17kg. It is made from 5kg of 18-karat gold and two layers of malachite. The base of the trophy is 13cm in diameter and the names of all winning teams since 1974 along with the years are engraved on it. This current iteration of the World Cup trophy can accommodate the names of 17 winning countries and years.
Unlike the Jules Rimet trophy, the current iteration of the trophy will not be handed over to a team definitively. It permanently belongs to the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and is secured at its Zurich headquarters.
However, a gold-plated bronze replica of the cup referred to as the World Cup Winners’ Trophy is given to every winning team.