After 64 soccer matches and one month of thrilling competition, Germany finally captured the FIFA World Cup Trophy yesterday with a 1-0 extra-time win over Argentina.
The coveted trophy, which is 14.5 inches tall and depicts two human figures holding up the earth, is made of 10.8 pounds of 18-karat gold and features two rows of green malachite at the base. The value of the gold alone is $172,368.
The trophy is likely hollow. FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, had previously claimed that the metal part of the trophy was solid gold, but Martyn Poliakoff of Nottingham University pointed out that, based on its dimensions, a solid version would weigh an unwieldy 154 pounds.
The German team, which came into the tournament ranked #2 in the world, will be taking home a gold-plated replica of the actual trophy. The real one will remain in the possession of FIFA. The bottom of the base bears the engraved year and name of each FIFA World Cup winner since 1974. The names are not visible when the cup is standing upright.
For the past 84 years, there have been only two designs for the FIFA trophy. The current one was designed by Italian artist Silvio Gazzaniga and first presented in 1974.
In describing his design, Gazzaniga said, “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.”
In 1970, the Brazilians got to keep the previous version of the trophy — the Jules Rimet Cup — when the team captured its third world title.
Rimet, the founding father of the FIFA World Cup, had stipulated 40 years earlier that any team that won three titles could have the cup permanently. FIFA made good on that promise in 1970, but in 1983 the cup was stolen in Rio de Janeiro and never seen again.
The Jules Rimet Cup, which was originally called “Coupe du Monde,” was designed by French sculptor Abel Lafleur and depicted the goddess of victory holding an octagonal vessel above her. It was 13.7 inches tall and weighed 8.4 pounds. It was made of gold-plated sterling silver, with a blue base of lapis lazuli.
In 1966, an earlier version of the Jules Rimet Cup was lifted from a public display in London just before the Brits were about to host the World Cup. It was discovered seven days later at the bottom of a suburban garden hedge by a clever canine named Pickles.
During World War II, the Jules Rimet Cup spent some time in a shoebox under the bed of FIFA vice president Dr. Ottorino Barassi, who feared it might fall into the hands of the Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.