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If you’ve been following our coverage, you know that we introduced you to the current World Cup mascot, Fuleco. In that post, I listed every mascot from 1966 (the year the Brits debuted the first World Cup mascot, World Cup Willie), which made me realize something. Most of the World Cup mascots have been terrible. Here are the worst of the worst.

Ciao – Italy 1990

Ciao Italy 1990
Oh so huggable. (Getty Images)

When you think mascot, you think cute, cuddly, lovable and probably huggable… at least that’s the intention of most mascot designs. I’m pretty sure that, if you tried to hug Ciao, you’d end up with a bruise at the very least, and tetanus at the very worst. Seriously, who designed this? It’s just a bunch of metal blocks put together to make a stick figure. Thankfully, it has a soccerball for a head, or we wouldn’t have any idea what it is supposed to be, or what it’s supposed to represent. Hey, at least they painted it with the Italian colors, It doesn’t even have real feet! How can it play fútbol? As much a I dislike some of the other animal based mascots, this is just weird and stupid. Good job, Italy. What are you going to have next time, the Microsoft Office paperclip guy? I hope he’s at least wearing an Azure jersey.

Emotionlessly awful.

The Spheriks – Korea/Japan ’02

The Spheriks
The dawn of the digital age?

I must admit that I was on the fence about Ato, Kat and Nik. Leave it to the Japanese and Koreans to make the first (and only) virtual World Cup mascots. After all, most of the world’s greatest tech comes from that area of the world, so why not show off that digital and technological prowess by designing three weirdo Teletubby… things. I mean, what exactly are they even? They’re not animals. I don’t even think they’re aliens. According to everything I’ve found on Google, they’re just futuristic computer generated creatures. Mascots need to be identifiable, so that people can… welll, identify with them and like them. I don’t know what they are, and so I hate them.

Ato is clearly the ringleader, probably because he’s made of molten lava and his head is on fire. What’s with his facial expression? Is he about to pull the Biff Tannen “Is this your ball?” trick on the other two? I think Ato might be a dick. Kaz and Nik, on the other hand, are being bullied but seem to be too stupid to realize it. Also, are they in a pageant? What’s with the sashes? Did they win Mr. and Ms. Crappy Virtual Mascot? (assuming they’re male and female.) I think the worst part of this tragedy is that these three fools had a TV show that same year. When is enough enough?

Futuristically awful.

Juanito – Mexico 1970 and Pique – Mexico 1986

Juanito and Pique
These aren’t racist… at all.

I had to group these two together, because I wanted to make sure I grouped all the racism into one area of the post, rather than spreading it out over two. Let’s start at the very beginning, with Juanito. Where do I start? He’s fat, for one, with a ponch belly sticking out of his undersized jersey and big chubby cheeks. He’s also wearing a giant straw sombrero. You know… like Mexicans do. It’s slightly offensive.

At least you can probably blame that on simpler times, where being politically correct wasn’t the first priority. I’m not sure what to blame Pique on. It’s like FIFA said to themselves “You know what? Back in 1970, we weren’t nearly racist enough. Let’s really really go out and offend some people right now.” I mean, it was the 1980s, the decade of decadence; you might as well go all out. Pique, you see, is a Jalapeño. A friggin’ Jalapeño! He also has an absurdly long mustache, wears a giant Jalapeño topped sombrero and wears his clothes all baggy and loose… over his fatty ponch belly. You know… like Mexicans do.

I mean good lord, people! If somoene even turned this design in today as an idea, they’d get tarred and featherd in the square. How did this get approved? Even in 1980? Did they see the Frito Bandito and get jealous?

Racistly awful.

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Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.