In a first of its kind, the official World Cup football trophy will be on display in India next April, it was decided at a meeting on the sidelines of the ongoing 59th FIFA Congress in The Bahamas.
For football lovers in India, starved of seeing the national team at the World Cup stage, this could be their first chance to catch a glimpse of the trophy which depicts two human figures holding the earth.
In 2004, India witness a replica of the FIFA World Cup, but according to information from The Bahamas, this time it will be the original trophy visiting the country on April 20-21.
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valeke and Director of Marketing Thiery Weil along with Amber Steele, Director Marketing of Coca Cola, held a meeting with officials of the All India Football Federation -- senior vice-president Subrata Dutta and treasurer Hardev Jadeja -- on the sidelines of the 59th FIFA Congress on Tuesday.
"There it was decided that from September 2009 the trophy will start touring all the 54 African countries before travelling to 32 other nations including India," Dutta said over phone from Paradise Island, The Bahamas.
"The trophy will be on display at the Capital on April 20 before moving to Kolkata the next day. From there it will be flown to Japan," Dutta informed.
South Africa, the hosts of the 2010 World Cup will be its final destination.
All costs for the event in India is likely to be borne by Coca Cola, FIFA's official partner.
A Coca Cola spokesperson confirmed the official trophy will indeed be on display in India.
"Yes, it will be the real FIFA World Cup which will be on display in India and not the replica," said the spokesperson of the company's India chapter.
Among matters discussed with AIFF officials were ways to promote the event and display the trophy.
According to Dutta, a massive celebration is being planned at the airport when it reaches Delhi. There is likely to be media interactions, dinners and event promotions during the trophy's two-day stay in India.
An opportunity for football lovers to take pictures with the trophy is also being explored.
FIFA's decision to bring the official World Cup trophy to India also shows the importance football's governing body attaches to the country's development in the game as part of its 'Win in India with India' project which has seen FIFA already allocating 10 astroturfs to the country.
The FIFA World Cup is made of 18 carat solid gold and has a base of malachite. The cup, which first came into existence in the 1974 World Cup after Brazil won the Jules Rimet trophy permanently, was designed by Italian Silvio Gazzaniga and weighs 6.175kg.