Football World Cup Mascots
Mascots always play a key role during the announcements and advertisements of any FIFA World Cup starting from 1966. Mascots also created a string of attachment of the young and child football fans with the game of football, as the merchandising sector tries to concentrate on the segment of children. Children love mascots, and history has seen that various mascots all over the world have started their journey by visiting different schools, mainly to attract the target spectators, i.e. the youth. Even for their fascination towards the toys and characters, young sports fans are also the target buyers of the mascot merchandises. World Cup Willie was the first mascot ever to be used in a FIFA World Cup in the year 1966, and from that time onwards, mascots became a significant part of this big event. So here is the list of Top 10 Football World Cup Mascots.
Top 10 Football World Cup Mascots
The official mascot of the 2014 FIFA World Cup hosted by Brazil was Fuleco the Armadillo. Fuleco represents a species of armadillo called Brazilian three-banded armadillo which is categorized as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List and also native to Brazil. As a part of Brazilian TV Globo’s weekly Fantástico entertainment show, Fuleco was officially launched on 25 November 2012. Fuelco’s name is a blend in linguistics of the words “Futebol” and “Ecologia”. 47 final mascot proposals created by six different Brazilian agencies were analyzed by FIFA and the Local Organizing Committee and then voting was conducted to select the name where Fuleco won with 48% of the vote and the support of 1.7 million football fans.
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2. World Cup Willie
The official mascot of the 1966 FIFA World Cup hosted by England was World Cup Willie. World Cup Willie is also the first ever mascot officially declared to represent a FIFA World Cup. The mascot was actually a cartoon lion wearing a Union Jack football shirt in red, white and blue, and a 60s mop-top mane. World Cup Willie was designed by legendary cartoonist Reg Hoye, who illustrated several of Enid Blyton’s children’s books. According to Hoye, Willie was actually based on his son Leo Francis Hoye. After his amazing success with World Cup Willie, Reg Hoye also being asked to design a red devil for Manchester United and a polar bear character to represents the London Zoo.
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The official mascot of the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted by South Africa was Zakumi. The mascot is actually an anthropomorphized leopard with green hair and a cheerful and sporty nature. Zakumi’s name was derived from the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code for South Africa “ZA” and Kumi, which stands for number 10 in several African native languages to represent the year 2010. Zakumi was officially launched on 22 September 2008, and his birthday is also the Youth Day in South Africa. Andries Odendaal designed the mascot for 2010 FIFA World Cup. The mascot also bears the official motto “Zakumi’s game is Fair Play” which was displayed in the digital advertisement boards during 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
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4. Goleo and Pille
The official mascot of the 2006 FIFA World Cup hosted by Germany was Goleo and his sidekick Pille. The design of Goleo is actually derived from lion, and the Pille is a talking football. The uniform of Goleo was white football shirt with black collar and sleeve rims, which was also the official uniform of the German national team between the 1950s and 1970s. Goleo also wears the number 6 on his jersey which stands for 2006, the year in which Germany hosted the FIFA World Cup. The costume of Goleo was designed and manufactured by The Jim Henson Company with a cost of approximately €250,000. The mascot was officially unveiled at a German television program, “Wetten, dass..?” on November 13, 2004. Goleo was also featured in the Bob Sinclar’s song “Love Generation”.
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The official mascot of the 1986 FIFA World Cup hosted by Mexico was Pique. Pique is actually a jalapeño pepper with a moustache and wearing sombrero which represents the characteristic of Mexican cuisine. The mascot also wears the mariachi hat and has a soccer ball on his right foot. The name of the mascot Pique was derived from picante which stands for spicy peppers and sauces in Spanish. The 1986 FIFA World Cup was the second time Mexico organized a world cup, and for that, they created something unique for the mascot which symbolized their effort for hosting this big event. Similar to the mascot of several mascots for FIFA World Cup, Pique also wears the national colors of Mexico on his uniform.
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The official mascot of the 1998 FIFA World Cup hosted by France was Footix. Footix is actually a rooster which is also marked as the symbol of France. The body of the Footix is blue in color with “France 98” written on it to represents the hosting nation and year of the event, and the face of the mascot is yellow in color. The suffix, “-ix” in the name Footix represents the stereotype of the Gauls, in accordance with the famous comic series, Asterix, where the names of all characters always end in “-ix”. The final design of the 1998 FIFA World Cup was created by famous musician and graphic designer Fabrice Pialot. The term “Footix” created a symbolic meaning in French popular culture after the France team defeated Brazil at the World Cup 1998 final.
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7. Striker, The World Cup Pup
The official mascot of the 1994 FIFA World Cup hosted by United States was Striker, The World Cup Pup. Striker is actually a dog which also refers to the most common pet animal at the United States. The design of the mascot was created by Warner Bros Studios. Warner Bros created a hybrid of Scooby Doo and Huckleberry Hound while making the mascot for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Striker wears a red, white and blue football uniform with the words “USA 94″ written on his shirt which symbolize the hosting nation and year of the event. The name of the mascot Striker comes from his role as the football striker in United States National team. The mascot was officially unveiled for public on July 17, 1994.
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The official mascot of the 1978 FIFA World Cup hosted by Argentina was Gauchito. Gauchito was a actually child footballer. The mascot wears a white and blue jersey which is also the team color combination of Argentina. Gauchito also wears a hat with “Argentina 78” written on it which symbolize the hosting nation and year of the event. The mascot also has a scarf around his neck and drag, and holds a talero in his hand. The design of the Gauchito was created by Manuel García Ferré who is also famous for creating some of the very popular cartoon characters such as Anteojito, Hijitus and Trapito. He is also featured in a series of short films called “The World 78 Gauchito” by Nestor Cordova.
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9. Ato, Kaz and Nik
The official mascot of the 2002 FIFA World Cup hosted by South Korea, and Japan was Ato, Kaz and Nik. The mascots for 2002 FIFA World Cup were actually a group of three characters collectively known as The Spheriks. Ato, Kaz and Nik were the first futuristic computer-generated characters used as the mascot in any big event. Ato is orange in color, Kaz is purple, and Nik was created with the color blue. The Spheriks is also a team that plays a fictional football-like sport called “Atmoball” and lives high in the sky in a place called Atmozone. Kaz and Nik are the players of the team while Ato plays his part as the coach of The Spheriks. The names of these three mascots were chosen by the votes on the Internet and at McDonald’s outlets throughout Korea and Japan.
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The official mascot of the 1970 FIFA World Cup hosted by Mexico was Juanito. Juanito is actually a child with a football on his right foot. The mascot wears a green and white colored uniform which is also the team color of Mexico. The mascot also wears a sombrero with the words “MEXICO 70” written on it which symbolize the hosting nation and year of the event. The name of the mascot Juanito was derived from the diminutive of “Juan” which is a very common name in Spanish. 1970 was the first year that Mexico organized the FIFA World Cup and for which they created a mascot for the event which will signify the cultures and traditions of the nation.
Several other mascots for FIFA World Cups also have their special places in the heart of the football fans and also for the merchandise lovers. Many other creative designs of the mascots also deserve their distinct places on the list, such as Naranjito who was the official mascot of Spain 1982 FIFA World Cup and is actually an Orange.