The tradition of a World Cup mascot has become almost as popular as the games themselves. Mascots these days draw attention from the youth and are always part of the marketing campaigns for each tournament. Here I take a look at the best and the most ridiculous:
Hosted in England, the 1966 was the first time a mascot was used for the World Cup. Willie the Lion was a roaring success and set the precedent for future mascots.
Juanito was a little boy wearing a sombrero and the Mexico kit. His innocence represented fair-play in the 1970 installment. (Not too sure why his jersey is so short, though.)
West Germany 1974
Tip & Tap are my two least favourite mascots. They look like they were sketched in under two minutes under the influence of a lot of Budweiser. Although they were supposedly created to lessen tension between West and East Germany. And I still don’t get why these kids were drawn with mid rifts baring!?
“Gauchos” are the South American version of cowboys. Gauchito came with a neckerchief and whip (although it looks more like a utensil.) On the plus side, they’ve covered his mid rift.
The Orange is a common fruit in Spain, so the Spanish decided that the mascot for their World Cup will be an Orange. “Naranjito” means little orange, and it is, thankfully, the only fruit to ever be a World Cup mascot.
The World Cup returned to Mexico and thankfully the powers that were decided to do away with a kid wearing an ill-fitting jersey. Instead they decided on “Pique’ (not the footballer), a jalapeno pepper (which is popular in Mexico) donning a sombrero (again) and mustache.
Ciao is one of the more absurd mascots, with no real form it is an inanimate mascot. Basically a stick figure playing football. However he (or she?) is made of the Italian tricolour.
Striker the World Cup Pup is adorable. Designed by Warner Bros studios, Striker was the all American pup. Also named after a football (soccer) position.
Footix is a rooster, the national symbol for France. The name Footix is interesting: it was derived from the word “Football” and one of the most famous French comics Asterix the Gaul.
Korea & Japan 2002
Okay, this one I just don’t get. The Spheriks were make believe computer generated characters. Their names mean “Orange, Purple & Blue.” They came from a planet called Aymozone, where they played “Atmoball” supposedly similar to football. Yeah… I just don’t get this one.
Galeo was a lion wearing the German national shirt. His sidekick is the football “Pillie.” This mascot was criticized for not wearing any pants. There was also criticism since the lion is not a symbol of Germany, but rather a symbol of England.
South Africa 2010
Zakumi is a leopard with green hair. The leopard is a common but elusive animal in South Africa, one of the famous “Big Five.” Zakumi was born in 1994, the year of South Africa’s democracy, he is therefore of the first generation of “born frees.” His name is derived from “ZA” the international symbol for South Africa, and the word “Kumi” meaning 10. He is (obviously) my favourite mascot.
Anf finally, I present to you the mascot for this years tournament, Fuleco. He is an armadillo, an endangered Brazilian creature. Fuleco has been described by his creators as cheerful, outgoing and curious. He is also a proud Brazilian that enjoys local music.
Who is your favourite mascot?