Initially, “World Cup” referred to the actual trophy presented to the winning team at each tournament. The first version, the Jules Rimet trophy, was handed out from 1930 through 1970. It was a gold sculpture of Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory, on a lapis lazuli base. It was named for the former FIFA President who had been so instrumental in the development of the World Cup. The trophy passed from winning team to winning team until 1970, when it was permanently awarded to Brazil to honor their achievement in winning the championship for the third time.
The current World Cup trophy is also made of gold on a malachite base. It depicts two human figures extending upwards and holding the Earth. The words FIFA WORLD CUP are engraved on the base, with the names of each winning country on the bottom of the statue. Images of the trophy have been featured on a number of soccer stamps and first day cover cachets.
Unusual anecdotes about the trophies:
- Just before the 1966 Cup the trophy was stolen while on public display at a stamp show. The Stanley Gibbons stamp firm had requested to display the trophy at Stampex along with their standard philatelic exhibitions. It was several days before a curious dog, named Pickles, discovered the stolen trophy underneath some bushes in a London neighborhood!
- The Jules Rimet trophy was stolen again in 1983. Thieves broke into the Brazilian Soccer Federation’s headquarters and removed the trophy from display. It has not been seen since and may have been melted down for the metal value.