Sports — 08 November 2013 — by Kareem Clarke
Coveted FIFA World Cup trophy brought to the Jewel

Today, for the first time in history, the most valued prize in the world of soccer, and perhaps the world – the renowned FIFA World Cup trophy – is currently in Belize.

Shortly after 10:00 this morning, the one-of-a-kind, solid gold trophy arrived at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) onboard a private Coca-Cola flight, in the custodianship of FIFA and CONCACAF officials.

The trophy is presently being featured on a customary worldwide tour – known as Coca-Cola’s FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour – that will be leading up to the 2014 World Cup tournament, which is scheduled to be hosted in Brazil. As part of the 2013/2014 trophy tour, which is sponsored each year by Coca-Cola, the prestigious symbol of football supremacy is slated to be taken to 88 countries over a 267-day period.

Immediately after the trophy’s arrival, a press conference was held in the VIP Room at the PGIA, and the speakers included a representative from Coca-Cola Global, FIFA and the FFB, as well as Government officials, and Michael Bowen, CEO of Bowen & Bowen Ltd.

After the press conference concluded, the trophy was escorted to the Radisson Fort George Hotel for an inclusive consumer experience event, in which football fans and members of the general public had their photos taken with the trophy and received specially produced paraphernalia, such as customized footballs and t-shirts.

During this particular event, Michael Bowen told Amandala that the trophy will be in Belize for less than 24 hours; however it was a tremendous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Belizeans to have gotten a chance to see the FIFA World Cup trophy in person.

Pekka Odriozola, a FIFA representative who is accompanying the trophy on the tour, told us that it has been a fantastic experience for him to be on the tour, especially when he gets to witness the passion that fans around the world have for the sport of football.

Later in the evening, a VIP event was conducted at the Baymen’s Tavern area of the Radisson Fort George, and the Governor General, Sir Colville Young, as head of state, was the only one allowed to actually touch the trophy.

According to the tour’s organizers, this will be the largest and longest tour of the FIFA World Cup Trophy, with visits to more countries than ever during its 9-month journey. During the course of this tour, the FIFA World Cup trophy has been taken through Latin America for the first time, and there were events scheduled in 39 countries across the region. The tour started in Brazil on September 9, 2013, and continued through Central America and the Caribbean up until today, November 7. After its stop in Belize, the trophy will be taken to Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South and North America, and Europe. It will return to Brazil in late April 2014, in time for the start of the World Cup.

The estimated value of the FIFA World Cup trophy is said to be approximately US$20 million; and it usually goes on tour in the months leading up to the World Cup, which is held every 4 years.

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