Brazen thieves and a dead dog – the crazy story about the missing World Cup trophy – today – 20-1

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The first trophy for winning the soccer world championship has an almost cinematic history with many outstanding actors behind it. And: It no longer exists! The mystery of its disappearance has not yet been solved. But that’s just one of many stories. It didn’t start well. After the spectacular final of the 1930 World Cup in Montevideo between the host Uruguay and the challenger Argentina, Fifa President Jules Rimet wanted to hand over the 35 centimeter high, golden statue that he had recently had the sculptor Abel Lafleur created in Paris at first nobody who wanted to receive the trophy. The Uruguayans were out of control because of their victory in the first World Cup final in history – what was the interest of this modest, yes, unusually small trophy that Rimet held in his hands down there on the lawn in the turmoil. And since Uruguay’s captain José Nasazzi was nowhere to be found, the Fifa chairman finally presented the statue in the catacombs to the association’s president Raúl Jude. A snapshot of this historic moment shows how Jude very casually receives the trophy with his right hand while his left is in his pocket. But at least the trophy had already been handed over in this way.

Jules-Rimet
Foto: imago images/YAY Images
And actually things didn’t go so badly for the „Coupe du Monde“, as it was still called back then. Because after the Italians were able to win the World Cup twice in a row, the now coveted trophy was accordingly in the possession of the southerners at the beginning of the Second World War – and should remain so until after the end of the war in May 1945. Because at some point the smart FIFA official Ottorino Barassi couldn’t get the fixed idea out of his head to get the trophy from the safe deposit box, where it was supposedly safe, and to hide it at home. More precisely: He packed the „Coupe du Monde“ in a simple shoebox under his bed. That was the first time that the trophy was so comparatively puny.

Cup brought hosts no luck

And indeed: the World Cup survived the dark times and shone in its full, golden glory at the first World Cup after a twelve-year break in Brazil. And there the drama slowly took its course. In the meantime, the trophy had been renamed „Coupe Jules Rimet“ in honor of the long-time Fifa president. But the trophy shouldn’t bring the hosts any luck. In the last, decisive game, the Brazilians lost to the Uruguayans very unhappily and had to watch the statue leave the country again. Eight years later, however, the time had finally come. The Brazilians, with their new superstar Pelé, won the Jules Rimet Cup in Sweden. And after they won the World Cup in Chile four years later, 1966 came to be a historic moment for the Brazilians in England. At least they had made up their minds. They wanted to get the trophy a third time in a row. But before that, something extremely spectacular happened. The host country England had already borrowed the trophy from the Brazilians a few months in the run-up to the World Cup, in order to be able to properly promote the big tournament. And that worked fine. One company proudly presented the trophy as the highlight of their „Sports and Postage Stamps“ exhibition in London’s Westminster Central Hall. People flocked enthusiastically and developed anticipation. After all, her team was considered a secret favorite. Many a vividly imagined what it would be like if, in a few months, Captain Bobby Moore raised the statue for victorious England.

Trophy reappeared briefly

One, as the British daily „Daily Mirror“ revealed many, many years later, was apparently so inspired by this scene that he could no longer take it until it became a reality. The petty criminal Sidney Cugullere is said to have stolen the badly secured trophy from the exhibition room and carried it out of the museum in an unobserved moment. That the feelings of a football romantic were less decisive in the act than the tough interests of a gangster became clear shortly afterwards when the English association received a ransom demand of 15,000 pounds. But the money transfer failed. And immediately it turned out that the man they had caught and who was so stubbornly silent was just a middleman. Sidney Cugullere was left unmolested. And so the fact remained for Scotland Yard, until the revelations of the „Daily Mirror“ many years later, simply a mystery. Mainly because just a few days later something completely surprising happened: The trophy reappeared.

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A dog, the now legendary Pickles, had discovered the cup in a bush. How he got there and, above all, why, has not yet been clarified. Be that as it may: England breathed a sigh of relief and the four-legged friend became a popular TV star, who was even allowed to eat empty the plates after the banquet at the opening of the World Cup as a reward. But Pickle’s fate also took a strange turn. Just a year later, the dog strangled itself when tangled in its leash while hunting a cat. Was there a curse on this Coupe Jules Rimet? What did not succeed in England, the Brazilian national team succeeded four years later in Mexico. She left the 1970 World Cup as a victorious team and was allowed to keep the Jules Rimet Cup because the trophy had now been won three times. The joy knew no bounds in football-mad Brazil. And that is precisely why the population was shocked all the more fourteen years later by news.

The trophy has been lost to this day

In February 1984, the association officials had tried to conceal the shocking act for two months, but now all media reported nothing else from morning to evening. On December 19, 1983, brazen thieves succeeded in stealing the world cup from a display case in a building belonging to the Brazilian Association. The nation was upside down.

Ben Redelings

Ben Redelings is a passionate „chronicler of football madness“ (Manni Breuckmann) and supporter of the glorious VfL Bochum. The author, filmmaker and comedian lives in the Ruhr area and tends to his treasure trove of anecdotes. For ntv.de he writes down the most exciting and funniest stories on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Further information on Ben’s current book and his tour program of the same name („Soccer. The love of my life“) can be found on his website www.scudetto.de. But no appeal, no pleading helped. The legendary statue has disappeared to this day, even if the perpetrators were caught ten years after the crime, shortly before the start of the 1994 World Cup in the USA. They were absolutely silent – and so it is only the assumption that the cup should have melted down. By the way: The very country that won the successor award first in 1974 was able to help ensure that at least one copy of the statue came back into the hands of the Brazilians. A company from Hanau had already made a copy for the DFB after Germany’s victory at the 1954 World Cup – and from that time there was still a sand casting mold. In June 1984 the Brazilians celebrated the return of the trophy to the capital, Rio de Janeiro, with a major friendly at the Maracana stadium. The enemy at the time was England of all places, the second nation from which the staue had once been stolen. And that closed the circle of this crazy story about the lost World Cup trophy.

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