FIFA World Cup
December 19, 1983: The Jules Rimet Trophy is stolen – again. Jules Rimet (1873-1956) was a French soccer administrator and the third President of FIFA. He served in that capacity from 1921 to 1954, the longest tenure for that position. He also served as the president of the French Football Federation between the years of 1919 and 1942. It was at his instigation that the first FIFA World Cup was held in 1930. The trophy awarded to the winners was called “Victory”. It was designed by Abel Lafleur and was a 14 inch high statue of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. It was made of gold-plated sterling silver and was placed on white/yellow marble base. In 1946, the trophy was renamed the Jules Rimet Trophy. In 1954 the marble base was replaced with one made of lapis lazuli.
The first time it was stolen was just prior to the 1966 FIFA World Cup games held in England. The trophy was placed in an exhibition and on Sunday, March 20 it was found missing. Shortly after noon, the case was found forced open as were the back doors to the building. The thieves had removed a padlock from the back of the display case and left the building via the same doors they had forced open to get in. None of the guards had noticed anything amiss while the theft was in progress and it was only at 12.10 PM when a guard came to check the room that the crime was discovered. Scotland Yard took over the case and when a ransom demand came the next day, they were prepared. The trophy was recovered by March 27 and one man was convicted for the theft.
In 1970, Brazil won the Jules Rimet Trophy for the third time and got to keep the prized award perpetually. Sérgio Peralta, a banker and football team agent, was the mastermind behind the theft. Francisco Rivera (alias Chico Barbudo) was a former policeman and José Luiz Vieira (alias Luiz Bigode) was a decorator and both men were accomplices to Peralta. Rivera and Vieira invaded the Brazilian Soccer Confederation (CBF) building and stole three items: the Jules Rimet as well as the “Equitativa” and the “Jurrito”. Investigation brought in Antonio Setta, a safecracker, who admitted Peralta had tried to hire him to steal the trophy, but due to patriotism and the fact that his brother had died of heart attack when Brazil won the Jules Rimet Trophy, he declined.
Peralta and his accomplices were arrested but the trophy was gone. It had been melted into gold bars by Juan Carlos Hernandez. He was then arrested as well. When they were found guilty and received their sentences, they fled. Rivera was killed in 1989 in a barroom brawl. Vieira was captured and freed from jail in 1998. Hernandez was captured in France when he was arrested for drug trafficking. He was released from prison in 2005. Peralta’s sentence was complete in 1998 and he died of a heart attack in 2003. Setta died in a motor vehicle accident in 1985. A replica of the original trophy was made and presented to CBF in 1984.
I’m attracted to soccer’s capacity for beauty. When well played, the game is a dance with a ball. – Eduardo Galeano
Watching soccer is my main hobby, really. I’m no tactician or coach, but I enjoy watching the free flow of it, the different styles, and the histories behind clubs. Like Barcelona vs. Madrid – it’s not just a soccer game; it’s a geopolitical struggle. There are great storylines and no commercials. – Andrew Luck
I like tricks; I like to dazzle. Dribbling and leaving your opponent on his backside is what life is for. If I achieve what I want to, then I’ll mark a distinct era in football. I’m the Che Guevara of modern soccer. – Sergio Aguero
Soccer is simple, but it is difficult to play simple. – Johan Cruyff
Also on this day: Monumental – In 1960, the San Jacinto Monument was declared a National History Landmark.
Believe – In 1918, Ripley began his carton series.
Tiny Tim – In 1843, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol.
What’s Up, Doc? – In 1956, Dr. John Bodkin Adams was arrested.
Presumed – In 1967, Harold Holt was presumed dead.