Do the World Cup Winners Keep the Trophy?


The tournament of upsets is nearly over, leaving Argentina and France in its wake to face off in the final.

The two football giants – each led by PSG teammates Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé – fell victim themselves to group stage upsets, but navigated the knockout round to reach Sunday’s match. They’re each on the quest to deliver a third World Cup victory to their country. 

France is all too familiar with the trophy process, having won the tournament in 2018. But for Argentina, a lot has changed since it last won the World Cup in 1986.

Here’s a look at what each team can expect following Sunday’s Final:

Do the World Cup winners keep the trophy?

Not only do players not keep the trophy, but neither does the winning country. 

This is in stark contrast to North American leagues like the NHL, which has an unofficial tradition of providing every member of the winning team – staff included – a personal day with the Cup. While the NHL takes trophy sharing to the next level, most championship trophies end up in the possession of the winning team for at least their period of reign, if not permanently. 

The winning country, however, does receive a bronze replica – plated in gold – to keep.

Why does the winning country not keep the World Cup trophy?

FIFA’s decision to deny winning countries ownership of the World Cup trophy comes down to security…and if history is any indication, that concern is warranted. Ninety two years and two trophies later, the world’s most valuable trophy remains a favorite for thieves. 

The first major scare came in 1938 when the looming threat of Mussolini and Nazi invasion prompted Ottorino Barassi, the Italian vice-president of FIFA, to remove the-then Jules Rimet Trophy from an Italian bank and store it in a shoe box under his bed. 

In 1966, the first heist occurred in London ahead of the 1966 World Cup. The trophy went missing from a display cabinet before being found seven days later in a garden hedge, courtesy of a dog named Pickles. 

While Pickles’ heroics were celebrated in England, the foiled crime earned the ire of countries around the world, with Abrain Tebel – an official with the Brazilian Sports Confederation – calling it a “sacrilege that never would have been committed in Brazil” because even Brazilian thieves respected soccer and the World Cup. Meanwhile, the Football Association commissioned a replica trophy to be used on display.

In many ways, the fallout from the 1966 incident proved to be a harbinger of misfortune to come. 

In 1970, Brazil won its third World Cup, earning the right to own the real trophy outright as defined by FIFA President Jules Rimet in 1930. FIFA then commissioned a replacement trophy ahead of the 1974 World Cup that remains in use today, but unfortunately the story doesn’t stop there. 

Tebel and Brazil had to swallow its words 13 years later when the Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen from the Brazilian Football Confederation in Rio de Janeiro. The original stone base was located in the basement of the FIFA headquarters in 2015, but otherwise no part of the trophy has ever been found and it is widely believed to have been melted down and sold for parts. 

Where is the World Cup trophy kept between tournaments?

The World Cup trophy is kept at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. 

Security surrounding the trophy is so tight that there are only a handful of situations that FIFA deem worthy of removing it from their headquarters. These include the traditional World Cup trophy tour in the leadup to the tournament, the opening match of the tournament and of course, the final match to award the winning team. 

What does the winning World Cup country and its players get for its victory?

Don’t be fooled, the World Cup is about more than just pride. 

In addition to the gold-plated replica trophy, FIFA will dish out prize money to each country from a $440 million pile. The winning country will receive $42 million, followed by the runner-up with $30 million, the third-place team with $27 million and the fourth-place team with $25 million. 

Even the U.S. leaves Qatar with $13 million added to its bank account. 

The name of each winning country – in its native language – is also inscribed on the base of the World Cup trophy stored in Zurich. 

Players don’t go home entirely empty handed. Members of teams that finish in the top-three are awarded medals for their performance.


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