TORONTO (Reuters) - The World Cup trophy ventured into Stanley Cup territory on Wednesday, providing onlookers a glimpse of the contrasting lifestyles for two of sport’s most cherished and well-recognized prizes.
The 18-carat gold trophy, on an eight-month tour stretched across five continents and 83 countries ahead of this year’s World Cup in South Africa, came to Canada, a soccer outpost that has only qualified for one World Cup and failed to score a goal.
But despite the lack of a soccer pedigree, the hockey crazed Canadians showed the World Cup trophy plenty of love and snapped up thousands of free tickets to have photos taken with soccer’s top prize.
The trophy could not be touched and was stored in a clear protective case displayed in a no-touch zone that was enforced by security fit of a president.
When it was time to pack up the World Cup a black velvet blanket raised around the stand - and when it dropped the trophy was gone.
“There’s no big mystery, it is just part of the security measures,” FIFA spokesman Bryan Chenault told Reuters about the trophy’s disappearing act. “All I can tell you is that it is guarded around the clock and under lock and key.”
Chenault said when the trophy is not being shipped around the world it is stored in Zurich at an undisclosed location.
While the World Cup trophy lives the life of a reclusive royal cloistered in a top-secret location between appearances, ice hockey’s Stanley Cup -- given to the National Hockey League championship team -- might be considered a party animal.
Taken home for a day by each member of the winning team, the Stanley Cup has visited war zones, strip clubs, been used for a child’s christening and a dog food bowl.
Unlike soccer’s trophy which travels with an entourage of 14 people in a sort of trophy Pope-mobile, the Stanley Cup has occasionally been spotted strapped to a car’s passenger seat.
While onlookers at the World Cup trophy display were being kept at arms length from the treasure, the Stanley Cup’s home a few blocks away inside the Hockey Hall of Fame allows people to touch and pose with the trophy.
The World Cup trophy is handled only by FIFA members, winning players, heads of state and on Wednesday an unknown security guard. Media were not allowed to talk to the gloved worker in charge of securing the World Cup trophy in its case.
“I understand why the Stanley Cup has the notoriety it has and it’s quite fun that it is able to be passed around,” said Chenault.
“It might end up in a bar and the next day on a shelf but this trophy is only meant to be handled by FIFA members, World Cup winners and heads of state.”
Editing by Frank Pingue