Ever since 1996, when the Brits unveiled World Cup Willie, the World Cup (and most big international tournaments, really) has had an official mascot. This year’s tournament in brazil will be the tenth with a mascot. Here’s a quick breakdown from then until now:
- World Cup Willie – London ’66
- Juanito – Mexico ’70
- Tip and Tap – West Germany ’74
- Gauchito – Argentina ’78
- Naranjito – Spain ’82
- Pique – Mexico ’86
- Ciao – Italy ’90
- Striker the World Cup Pup – U.S. ’94
- Footix – France ’98
- Ato, Kaz and Nik – Japan/Korea ’02
- Goleo IV and his talking ball sidekick Pille – Germany ’06
- Zakumi the leopard – South Africa ’10.
Everybody got that? Good. Now let’s mee the mascot for Brazil 2014, Fuleco the Armadillo!
Just look at that cute furry guy up there, ah? Isn’t he so friendly and nice? There’s a little more depth to him than that, however. You see, Fuleco is a Brazilian three-banded armadillo, a species that has been put on the IUCN Red List and qualified as vulnerable. On top of that, the name Fuleco is a hybrid of the words Futebol (the Brazilian word for Fútbol) and Ecologia (ecology). It turns out he’s not just a cute armadillo, he has a message to bring–ecological awareness.
The design chosen by FIFA and the LOC out of 47 different proposals by six Brazilian agencies. Designs were weeded out through several stages, the last of which involved focus groups made up of children between the ages five and twelve. In the end, the armadillo won, and the name beat out Zuzeco and Amijubi with 48% of the popular vote.
I actually like this mascot quite a bit. For one, and this is big, he’s not creepy looking in the least. Often, when mascots are chosen by adults who wear suits for a living, they end up looking like kidnappers or molesters (remember Pierre the Pelican and Clark the Cub?). Another thing that I like, is that he’s Brazilian, but not stereotypically so. He’s not going to offend anyone. Looking back at some of the older mascots, like Pique from 1986 for example, I’d be surprised if someone didn’t raise a stink about at least one of them. Finally, I like the way they’ve incorporated fútbol into the mascot, with the ball pattern on his head, and the little soccer uniform.
The one thing that kind of bothers me is that he’s wearing a t-shirt and normal shorts. I feel like he should be wearing some kind of jersey, and fancier shorts. That being said, perhaps the selection committees were trying to convey the message that Fuleco is a common guy. With a t-shirt and some off-brand fútbol shorts, he’s like most Brazilians–impoverished and looking for a chance to shine. While that won’t help quell the anger that many Brazilian protestors are feeling, at least he’s not all blinged out when he visits the favelas (if they actually let him do that).
Overall, I like Fuleco. I give him a 7 out of 10. What do you think?
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