Feature: Glittering, original FIFA World Cup trophy catches Egyptians' eyes

Source: Xinhua| 2018-03-16 06:22:16|Editor: Mengjiao Liu
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by Ahmed Shafiq

CAIRO, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Amid joyful atmosphere in Cairo, hundreds of Egyptians lined up to pose for photos with the original FIFA World Cup trophy which arrived in Egypt Thursday as part of its worldwide journey.

"Witnessing the World Cup Trophy is really unbelievable ... for Egyptians, this is one of the happiest moments," Hossam al-Husseini, an Egyptian movie star, told Xinhua before he took a photo with the 6-kilogram gold trophy.

The trophy arrived at Cairo International Airport on a private plane carrying a delegation of FIFA officials for a two-day visit in Egypt, whose national football team qualified to this year's tournament in Russia.

The trophy came to Egypt after concluding a tour in Cote d'Ivoire and is expected to head to Italy's Naples in a European tour before it changes direction to Argentina in South America.

The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour is organized by FIFA's partner Coca-Cola to give fans around the world a unique chance to take a closer look at the trophy, which is the biggest prize in the world of football tournaments.

The event, which was held under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports, also aims to celebrate Egypt's qualification for the FIFA World Cup after a 28-year absence from the international football scene.

"I hope that our players will bring this trophy to stay here the next four years," al-Husseini, who plans to go to Russia to support Egypt's national team, said with optimism.

Before it was put on display for fans at Cairo Festival City Mall, the original trophy visited the Egyptian presidential palace, where Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi received the FIFA and Coca-Cola delegations.

The trophy is scheduled to stop in 91 cities in 51 countries and regions including the 32 countries that qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

For Egyptians, seeing the real trophy, which visits the most populous Arab country for the third time, is exceptional as it coincides with Egypt's qualifications for the most famous football tournament.

"I came not only to see the trophy, but also to promote this event on social media and let the whole world know that we are going to Russia," Sherine Hamdy, a TV presenter, told Xinhua.

She is all hopeful that the Egyptian team will come back with great scores, adding that the Egyptian national team can "bring this trophy back to Egypt real soon."

The original trophy is made of solid gold and weighs 6.142 kg. It is awarded to the winners of the FIFA World Cup but it remains in FIFA's possession.

As one of the most recognized sports symbols in the world and a priceless icon, the trophy can only be touched and held by a very select group of people that includes former winners of the FIFA World Cup and heads of state.

The trophy was not the only thing that attracted the eyes of fans during the ceremony in Cairo. Famous international and local football stars have also grabbed the attention of the attendants.

Former French football star Christian Karembeu, who won the World Cup with his national team in 1998, was among the stars at the grand gala.

"We are here to share the experience with all the fans. You can see the excitement of people," Karembeu told Xinhua during the event.

Karembeu said that Egypt made to the tournament in Russia because it deserves it, adding that the national team of Egypt is strong as most of its footballers play in the Premier League in England.

He said that Mohammed Salah, a Liverpool soccer star, who is one of the best talents in the team together with Mohammed al-Neny of Arsenal and Amr Warda of Atromitos in Greece, can help make a difference.

"I hope that coach Hector Cuper will drive them to the best," the former Real Madrid player said.