“On this day in 1983, the Jules Rimet Trophy, awarded every four years to the FIFA World Cup winner, was stolen in a simple, but daring, theft. It was never recovered.
Originally called “”Victory,”” the trophy was renamed in 1946 to honour FIFA President Jules Rimet who had initiated the competition in 1929. Designed by Abel Lafleur, the trophy is gold-plated sterling silver. The 35 centimetres tall, 3.8-kilogram trophy depicts a winged Nike, the ancient Greek goddess of victory, carrying a decagonal cup.
The trophy has enjoyed a storied history. It was first held by Uruguay, the winners of the 1930 World Cup, then by Italy, the 1938 winners, who secretly transported the trophy from a bank in Rome and hid it in a shoebox to prevent its seizure by the Nazis. In March of 1966, four months before the FIFA World Cup in England, the trophy was stolen during a public exhibition at Westminster Central Hall. After a ransom attempt led to the arrest of one thief, the trophy was found seven days later, wrapped in newspaper under a hedge in a residential home in South London by a dog named Pickles. Since then, the Football Association used a replica trophy, the FIFA World Cup Trophy, for post-match celebrations.
By 1983, the Brazilian Football Confederation in Rio de Janeiro was holding the original, recovered, World Cup trophy, the Jules Rimet. It was kept in a cabinet fronted with bulletproof glass. On 19 December 1983, guards at the Confederation noticed the trophy had been stolen, yet again. The rear of the cabinet, made of wood, had been pried open with a crowbar. Four men were eventually tried and convicted in absentia for the theft, but the trophy was never recovered. Some believe the trophy may have been melted down. The Brazilian Confederation commissioned a replica for their own use, made by Eastman Kodak from 1.8 kilograms of gold.
Meanwhile, FIFA commissioned a replacement for the 1974 World Cup, and out of 53 applicants, eventually commissioned Italian artist Silvio Gazzaniga. The18-carat gold trophy is 36.5 centimetres tall, weighs 5 kilograms and depicts two people holding up the Earth. This trophy has been awarded to World Cup champions since 1974. The stolen Jules Rimet trophy has never been recovered.”
Credit: Getty Images
Caption: The Jules Rimet Trophy was the original trophy awarded to the FIFA World Cup winner until it vanished on this day in 1983.