The prestigious FIFA World Cup Trophy and ultimate prize in Football landed in the country yesterday as part of a promotional international tour to build up excitement to this year’s World Cup edition that is slated to take place later on in June of this Year. This was the third time the trophy had landed in the country, with the previous instances being in 2010 and 2014. The trophy was received with a lot of buzz and excitement yesterday morning at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport before it made its way to State House to be received officially by President Uhuru Kenyatta. Before making its way to Kenya, the trophy was on a two-day tour in Ethiopia.
The World Cup Trophy Tour
The FIFA World Cup trophy tour is in now in its 4th edition since its inception in 2006 and is sponsored by FIFA and its long-term partner, Coca-Cola. The tour is meant to give fans a rare opportunity to see the trophy up close and have their experience captured with a photograph, all in an effort to appreciate the global nature of the game and appreciate the role football fans play all over the world. This latest edition of the tour kicked off in September 2017 in Moscow, Russia and will have gone to over 50 countries and across six continents by the time the 2018 edition of the World Cup kicks off on June in Russia.
Significance of the Trophy in Kenya.
It is an open secret that the World Cup Trophy landing in Kenya is a huge deal, especially since this is the third time it’s landing on Kenyan soil. The move signifies Kenya as a positive hotbed for sports, football included, and it gives the Kenyan football fans a chance to feature in the global excitement of the World Cup and identifies Kenya as a sports-loving nation. That said, the trophy landing in Kenya should also be looked at as a challenge, especially by the Sports leadership and governance institutions, a challenge to improve not only the football infrastructure in the country but of other sports as well.
Our sports docket should not be talking about inadequate funding for our football teams to travel abroad for matches, retrogressive laws that chase potential sponsors, such as Sportpesa away, with them having to withdraw sponsorship deals that were vital for the game’s development in Kenya. It is subtly embarrassing that the World Cup Trophy has been in the country on three different occasions, bringing joy, excitement and celebration with it, but with Kenya not having featured in the tournament even once.
We cannot always as a nation, perpetually receive the World Cup Trophy after every four years, without there being any significant steps made by the Sports leadership towards improving the state of Kenyan football. This needs to change, because there is a lot of talent, especially among the youth at the grass-root level, so the Sports and Football leadership need to put in place better structures to harness this talent and let it reflect on the international scene. Therefore, this glorious honour that has been bestowed upon us a nation needs to be looked at as more than just that, it needs to be looked at as a challenge, as a wake-up call and as a potential turning point for Kenyan football.
The FIFA World Cup Wall Mapping.
As part of the promotional tour, Coca-Cola held a Wall Mapping Event of the World Cup at the UAP towers in Upper Hill. The event was held at the Railways Golf Club, a particularly strategic move, considering the club’s proximity to the UAP towers, where those in attendance had a clear view of the building, which was lit up in Coca-Cola’s signature colours of white and red, with projections of the Cup being illuminated into the building’s side. The event culminated in a neat fireworks display, and all who were near the Upper Hill area just had to look up and get treated to the incredible fireworks display. The event was meant to kick off the Trophy’s tour, with the public show-in event slated to take place on Tuesday.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy, arguably the most recognised sports symbol in the world is made up of 18-carat gold, stands at 36.8 cm tall and weighs in at 6.1 kilograms, thereby making it one of the most prestigious and valuable sports symbols in the world. Kenyan fans will have a chance to see the trophy up close as there will be a showcase event at the Kenya International Conference Centre (KICC) today, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. The showcase event will be open to the public, with the entry condition being the purchase of two bottles of Coca-Cola, which will be readily available at the entrance. Fans will get an opportunity to have their photos taken with the trophy but will not be allowed to touch it.
The World Cup trophy will then proceed to Mozambique on Wednesday before eventually moving to Uganda, Nigeria and Egypt. The tour will officially end in May when the trophy returns to the host country, Russia, ahead of the commencement of the tournament in June.
This latest edition of the FIFA World Cup Tournament will feature 32 National teams, as is its tradition, from the different continents. There will be 14 qualified teams from Europe, 3 teams from North, Central America and the Caribbean region, 5 teams from South America, 5 teams from Asia and 5 teams from Africa. The African representatives will be Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia.
Germany is the current holder of the Cup, after defeating Argentina in the 2014 World Cup Finals held in Brazil.