World Cup trophy travels in style

For the first time since its
introduction at the 1974 World Cup in Germany, the 36cm, 5Kg solid-gold
World Cup trophy has the opportunity to travel in style.

Snug like Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua
Tinkerbell, the cup is now transported in a case made by luxury goods maker
Louis Vuitton.

The permanent owners of the trophy,
football’s world governing body FIFA, thought it fitting that the 18 carat gold
cup should be transported in a luxury leather case.

After more than 100 hours of labour
at Louis Vuitton’s legendary workshop in Asnières,
France, the handcrafted
trophy case was presented on 1 June with the help of supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Since the last World Cup four years
ago the gold price has doubled and so has the basic value of the trophy. Its
real value, however, is immeasurable said FIFA’s General Secretary Jerome
Valcke. “Some say that the value is the equivalent of the Mona Lisa and I think
that’s right.”

Whenever it is on the move the distinct
trophy of jubilant athletes receiving the world is surrounded by an entourage
of security. For good reason. The trophy’s predecessor, the Jules Rimet cup,
was stolen twice, first at the 1966 World Cup in England, where it was famously
discovered by a Jack Russel terrier named Pickles, and then again in Brazil in
1983, when it disappeared for good.

The World Cup is arguably one of
the most recognisable trophies in sport. The idea was for it to symbolise
exertion, dynamism and the jubilation of an athlete in the moment of victory,
said its Italian designer Silvio Gazzaniga in an interview with FIFA.com.

He believes it is the helical
ascension that gives it a powerful harmony, energy and dynamism, He used
malachite, a semi-precious stone, at the base of trophy to symbolise the green
colour of a football pitch.

The names of the World Cup winning
teams are engraved on 17 plaques on the base of the trophy, meaning that the
cup will run out of space after the tournament in 2038.

At this stage it will presumably be
retired, just like the old Jules Rimet trophy which remained in the possession
of Brazil after winning the
World Cup for the third time in Mexico
in 1970.

Since 1974 World Cup winners Germany, Argentina,
Italy, Brazil and
France have received a gold-plated replica for their success. Italy and
captain Fabio Cannavaro were the last to hoist the trophy in 2006. The original
remains safe at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich,
Switzerland.

Before every World Cup the original
trophy embarks on a sponsored tour of the world. In May it was showcased
throughout South Africa
in a one month tour of the country. After its appearance at the opening match
of the World Cup in Johannesburg
the trophy will be locked in a safe until the final on 11 June.

If the World Cup trophy was stolen,
it would not be quite such a disaster, according to Mr. Gazzaniga. The artist
has made a copy using scagliola, a marble-effect Italian plaster. which could
easily be used to create a new trophy.

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