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The World Cup Trophy That Vanished Into Thin Air

The World Cup Trophy That Vanished Into Thin Air

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World Cup vanished, with no concrete specifics of where it went or when. Believed to have been stolen, it has since been replaced. And no, it’s not that pair of sunglasses you lost a few months ago.

It’s one of the two original FIFA Women’s World Cup trophies.

FIFA commissioned two identical trophies for the first Women’s World Cup in 1991, then called the FIFA World Championship for Women’s Football. One of the trophies mostly resides at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich, Switzerland. The other was awarded to the 1991 and 1995 champions, but was allegedly stolen from Oslo in 1997 and hasn’t been seen since.

The story of the theft begins on the rain-soaked pitch at Råsunda Stadium in Solna, Sweden, on June 18, 1995. There, the Norwegian women’s national team beat Germany, 2-0, during the final. Norway’s Gro Espeseth hoisted the trophy to celebrate, her hair wet from the storm.

The trophy itself was small yet striking: It consisted of a gold soccer ball that rested on converged gold strips extending from its base. Photos depict the trophy traveling to a celebratory banquet in Stockholm after the match, and then back to Norway with the Norwegian national team. The trophy was taken to the Norwegian Football Federation headquarters at Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, Norway. It was allegedly stolen two years later, in 1997, during stadium renovations.

The NFF couldn’t—or wouldn’t—supply even the most mundane details to the FIFA World Football Museum of the theft, shirking information such as where the trophy was in the stadium, and whether it was still on display. The NFF didn’t respond to interview requests from The Wall Street Journal.


FIFA in 1998 replaced the original trophy with a similar trophy that appears slightly larger. The current trophy, with a new design, was first awarded at the 1999 Women’s World Cupin the U.S. That’s the trophy that will be given to the winner of this year’s World Cup final in Lyon, France. A few hours after it is awarded, however, it will be taken back by FIFA, replaced by a replica called “the Winner’s Trophy,” that the champion can take home.

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