Since 1966, each FIFA World Cup has had its own mascot. Mascots are now commonplace for any major international sports event, as they represent specific features of the country hosting the event. The World Cup mascot is often one of the characters targeted at children with cartoon shows and other merchandise released to coincide with the competition. FIFA mascots have all been cartooned or animated figures with a playful feel to them.

In the 2010 edition of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Zakumi, the peppy leopard with green hair, clad in a white t-shirt and a pair of green football shorts was used. His name came from “ZA”, the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code for South Africa, and “kumi”, a word that means ten in several African languages, referencing the year 2010. His green and yellow (gold) colours of the character matched the colours used in South African sport uniforms and could also be seen in the South Africa national football team’s kit.

The first-ever mascot in the history of FIFA World Cups, World Cup Willie was a cartoon lion wearing Britain’s Union Jack and kicking a football in the 1966 World Cup in England. Mexico followed in the tradition that England had set in 1970 by designing their own mascot, Juanito, a young boy who wore Mexico’s green colors and a sombrero while standing in football attire. Two boys, called Tip and Tap, wearing German kits and a ball were used for the ’74 World Cup in Germany. Argentina followed Germany with Gauchito, a young boy wearing Argentina’s kit, a hat with ‘Argentina 78′ written on it, a neckerchief and a whip. Espana ’82 had a complete change from boys and animals to an orange fruit, Naranjito who wore Spain’s football kit while holding a ball, beaming a big smile. Pique, a green jalapeno pepper which had a moustache and a sombrero (hat) took over in Mexico ’86 before Ciao a stick player in the Italia ’90. Striker, the World Cup Pup A dog, a common US pet a wearing a white an football emerged in USA ’94 prior France ’98 Footix, a rooster. Goleo VI, commonly known as Goleo, and Pille were the official mascots for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany after the 2002 edition in Korea that had Ato, Kaz and Nik (The Spheriks).

This 2014 Brazil World Cup unveils, Fuleco the Armadillo as the official mascot. In the word, Fuleco, the part Ful comes from Futebol (Football) and eco comes Ecologia (Ecology). It is a Brazilian three-banded armadillo which is an endangered species and plays a major part in the environmental drive. The mascot carries the colors of the Brazilian flag the armadillo is yellow, with green shorts and a blue shell and tail. It is dressed in a white shirt with the words “Brazil 2014” written on it.

Did you know?

The FIFA World Cup Mascot has been unveiled twice as an animated lion. “World Cup Willie” A lion playing football was the first in England 1966. He was created by Reg Hoye a commercial artist who illustrated some of Enid Blyton’s children’s books. In the 1960s he was living in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, with his family when he was asked to design a mascot for the FA to use for the 1966 World Cup. He came up with four designs – a boy and three different lions. It was one of the lions, which he based on his son Leo, that became the official mascot of the tournament.

The second is Goleo which was unveiled as the 2006 World Cup mascot on November 13, 2004 in Germany. Clad in a white football shirt with black collar and sleeve rims, similar to those worn by the German national team, Goleo VI also appears in Atomic Kitten’s “All Together Now (Strong Together)”, also released in 2006.

Deputy Editor at Kawowo Sports. He is an aspiring Sport Psychologist.

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