World Cup trophy will remain 'Italian'

Milan, July 10: Either Spain or the Netherlands will be crowned football's new World Champions Sunday, succeeding holders Italy, but the trophy will remain Italian to the core.

The Cup, which will have a new name engraved in it as both teams are chasing their maiden title, has been made by GDE Bertoni Srl, a family-owned company based in a Milan suburb.

After a contest in 1972, soccer's ruling body FIFA selected Bertoni from among 53 bids to design and manufacture a new trophy that was awarded at the 1974 World Cup to the West German captain Franz Beckenbauer.

FIFA chose the model designed by Bertoni’s artistic director at the time, sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga.

Made with a malachite base, the trpohy weighs 6.18 kg, with almost 5 kg of pure gold, and stands 36 cm tall.

The trophy depicts two human figures holding up the Earth.

"The 1972 gold trophy is priceless," said Giorgio Losa, the owner of GDE Bertoni. "If you melt the gold, you’ll get around 150,000 euros, but the real value is much, much higher."

The first World Cup, won by Uruguay in 1930, was named in honour of FIFA president Jules Rimet, and was last awarded to Brazil in 1970. After winning the title three times, Brazil got to keep the Cup, which later disappeared from an exhibition in Rio de Janeiro in 1983.

FIFA subsequently abolished the rule that allowed three-time champions to keep the trophy.

The FIFA trophy designed by Gazzaniga is awarded to the winning team immediately after the match and is then returned to FIFA for safekeeping at its Zurich office.

Bertoni makes a gold-plated replica for the winning country to keep on display. The company also cleans and maintains the real trophy.

Bertoni already has made a replica for the 2014 tournament that will be hosted by Brazil, and it probably will be shown after Sunday's final, Losa said.

Bertoni, founded by Losa’s grandfather in 1920, employs 10 people and also makes the Champions League and the European League trophies for FIFA, besides making medals for the International Olympic Committee.

The company will have a revenue of more than 2 million euros in 2010.

"The World Cup trophy gives us a lot of media attention but we can’t monetise it because we are not allowed to produce any copies of the trophy," Losa said.

Italy's team crashed out in the opening stages of this year’s event in South Africa after failing to win any of its three games. It was the first time since 1974 that the country, a four-time champion, did not go beyond the first round.

In 2006, Italy had defeated France in the final.

"More than one member of that team asked Bertoni to make a replica of the trophy as a souvenir," Losa said.

"They have to be happy with the photo of holding up the trophy because we have rigid rules," Losa said.

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