FREIBURG, Germany -- The World Cup trophy began a tour of the host country Tuesday, offering German fans a chance to see soccer's most coveted prize before it is presented to the captain of the winning team this summer.
The trophy's 3,107-mile journey through Germany will include areas not near the 12 venues where games will be played during the June 9-July 9 tournament.
Fans will be able to inspect the original trophy crafted by Italian sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga and first used for the 1974 World Cup when Germany won the title at home. The tour will make 21 stops around the country.
FIFA said the tour was arranged to acknowledge fans and thank the many volunteers involved in the game and the tournament.
Until recently, the original World Cup trophy was seen only rarely. That was usually at official events such as the preliminary and final draws, the World Cup opener and final, or at the winning team's reception upon returning home.
At all other times, the trophy was locked in a bank vault. This year, the trophy toured the world between Jan. 6 and April 10, stopping in 29 countries.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press