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Olympic champions win medals, while FIFA champions win trophies.

Why do the winners receive a different object as an award?

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This general trend holds across most sports, but does not generally rely on the nature of the sport itself.

The reasoning behind any particular organisation's award of either a trophy or medal (or other object) can vary, but is generally based on tradition - copied from similar events/sports/organisations or from the originators of the cup-shaped trophy most commonly used, the ancient Greek Olympic games (which awarded the winner an amphora of sacred oil).

Teams as a whole will usually receive a significant object as a trophy, while individuals receive a smaller token like a medal.

However, this is not a universal rule.

  • Individual players in the FIFA World Cups are given medals, in addition to the team being awarded the trophy

  • The individual winner of many competitions is awarded a trophy (and usually a separate smaller replica, which they keep after the main trophy is given up)

  • The winners of combat sport events or titles is often awarded a belt

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