The official FIFA World Cup was displayed in Israel Sunday for the first time in history, as part of a global campaign stretching across 89 countries ahead of the 2014 World Cup tournament.
The display was organized by the Coca-Cola Company, a leading sponsor of the 2014 World Cup games, which are set to take place in Brazil.
The prestigious soccer trophy was unloaded at the Ben Gurion Airport early in the morning and was greeted by an entourage of frenzied fans and players, who were allowed, for just a moment, to approach the cup and catch a glimpse of everlasting glory.
The audience was not, however, allowed to touch the cup, as FIFA’s official rules forbid physical contact with the trophy, with the exception, of course, of the tournament’s winning team members.
The experience would have been particularly uplifting for a number of Israel’s current players who, after failing to qualify past the tournament’s preliminary stage, could only dream of actually lifting the cup.
Most recognizable among the crowd at the airport were Mordechai Spiegler, Yitzhak Shum and Itzik Viskur, all members of Israel’s legendary 1970 team, the only Israeli team to ever take part in the world’s most famous international soccer event.
“The fact that the trophy arrived in Israel is both exciting and important,” Shum said Sunday. “It raises memories from the past.”
After the display, the cup was taken out of the airport and privately shown to a number of lucky soccer fans across the country.
The FIFA World Cup is made entirely of 18 Karat gold and weighs about 55 kilograms (121 pounds).
From Israel, its first Middle Eastern destination, the trophy will continue its travels throughout the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Egypt and many other countries before finally settling in Brazil later next year.