With only 2 days to go until the World Cup kicks off, the trophy is ready in Brazil for the winners to lift on July 13th. However, this is not the original version of the trophy, with the original Jules Rimet trophy having been stolen over 30 years ago, along with a few other World Cup trophy mishaps along the way. We’re looking into the subject of missing trophies to see what other famous cups and awards have gone missing over the years.
The original World Cup trophy was first awarded to Uruguay after they beat Argentina in the final in 1930, and was then named ‘Victory’ or the ‘Coup du monde’. Although the first story of it officially being stolen came in 1966, there were rumours that this may have also happened 12 years prior. Germany were the winners of the footballing trophy in 1954, and when it was bought back ready for the 1958 competition, it had a new base amongst other alterations. Football reporters and supporters were not sure whether they had just altered the trophy slightly, or whether they had indeed bought back a replica, a theory that has never been proven and therefore leaves us with uncertainty as to whether this was the end of the original trophy. The Jules Rimet trophy, re-named after the FIFA President, was then taken from English headquarters whilst on display prior to the 1966 World Cup. Luckily it was found by a dog at the bottom of a garden nearby, much to England’s delight. However, it was not long before disaster struck again, and when Brazil were awarded the cup to keep permanently after winning the competition 3 times, it was stolen in 1983 and has not since been found. Assuming that this is indeed the original trophy, there are many theories that it was melted into gold by the thieves, and it is surely now extremely unlikely that it will ever be recovered.
So other than the famous story of the World Cup robbery, what other trophies have gone missing over the years?
Just this year the new Mayor of Pittsburgh realised that the Super Bowl Waterford crystal trophy, worth tens of thousands of dollars, was missing from the office since the former mayor’s administration. The Sleeters won the Super Bowl XLIII and by co-incidence the same trophy was also found to have been auctioned to a charity in recent years, is this the same one or a replica?
The Rugby League World Cup Trophy was stolen from a Bradford hotel in 1970, having been looked after at the Australian headquarters, prior to that year’s World Cup. They did already have a replica rugby trophy ready for the competition which was extremely lucky seeing as the original was not found until 1990. The member of the public who found the trophy in a ditch a few miles away was unsuccessful in finding the owners of the trophy and it remained unclaimed for quite some time – not something you can imagine happening to the FIFA World Cup! It has been said that it was almost altered by a friend into a body-building trophy before it was identified by reporters. As a result of this mix-up, the Rugby League World Cup had only been played 4 times.
Aston Villa are a team that have had their fair share of trophy disasters. The Original FA Cup was first taken in 1895 after their win over local rivals West Brom. The thieves were caught and admitted to melting the trophy down to make fake coins, resulting in the original cup never having been returned. They clearly didn’t learn from their mistakes though, as they then managed to have the European Cup stolen in 1982 after their victory against Bayern Munich. This story was particularly careless, as the owners had it with them in a pub whilst playing darts, and as they turned their back momentarily the trophy was taken! However, this trophy was found quickly, as it was handed in to a police station in Sheffield.
Other missing football trophies include the Sir Thomas Lipton trophy which was stolen from West Auckland Working Mens Club, and the Jakarta Cup which was stolen in 1975 in Argentina, and later found with a few less diamonds than it originally contained.
Recently we’ve also heard an amazing story a little closer to home, with a British school having lost a trophy that has now been found in Australia. This quite astonishing discovery was made by a British-born woman who was gardening by her restaurant on the South Coast of Australia. She looked up the engraving on the internet and wrote to the school who were delighted to hear of the find. This shows that missing trophies can really turn up anywhere, and maybe there is hope for the many other missing trophies out there, even those as famous as the World Cup!