FIFA World Cup Mascots
The first World Cup mascot was World Cup Willie. He was an athletic lion from England, in 1966.
Who doesn’t want to know who the next World Cup soccer mascot will be? The first-ever mascot decorated English stadiums in the 1966 World Cup. Since then, mascots have always been around. Learn all about them in our post today.
A handful of the World Cup mascots
Some mascots were animals while others were beloved characters. Regardless of what shape they took, the mascots represented the host country. Among the most famous World Cup mascots are:
1. World Cup Willie
Or simply Willie, fans will always remember this playful lion since his first appearance in the 1966 England World Cup. Willie donned a UK jersey and he even had an official song, which Lonnie Donegan interpreted.
Many Spaniards remember their happy orange that proudly wore the Spanish national team jersey while holding a soccer ball. You might be surprised to know that Spain chose the mascot in honor of the fruit that typically grows in Valencia and Murcia.
Naranjito inspired more negative comments than positive ones in the beginning. But over time, Spain grew to cherish him.
3. Ciao: World Cup mascots
The 1990 Italy World Cup brought about a rather strange mascot. Its body was formed of cubes in the Italian flag colors— red, white and green– and the figure had a soccer ball head.
The stick figure received, without doubt, the most backlash as a mascot ever for being an inanimate object.
A product of Warner Bros Studios, Striker was the World Cup mascot for the 1994 United States edition. He was a scruffy dog donning a red and white jersey and a pair of blue shorts (the colors of the US flag). He was always shown with a soccer ball.
5. World Cup mascots: Footix
The French used their national symbol, the rooster, as their World Cup mascot in 1998. Footix was the result of Fabrice Pialot’s imagination, who won the national mascot design competition. France also voted on the name (the options also included Zimbo, Houpi, Gallik, and Raffy).
According to the creators, Footix is bold, sporty and strong. He also radiates joy and confidence. The rooster has a blue body and reads “France 98/18” on his chest.
Zakumi is another popular World Cup mascot. The African leopard with green hair represented the 2010 South Africa edition. Zakumi was the creation of a designer in Cape Town.
The name “Zakumi” derives from “ZA”, which is the ISO country code of South Africa, and “Kumi”, which means “ten” or “come” in Afrikaans. Zakumi’s colors represent both the South African national soccer and rugby team. Instead of wearing a shirt with the country flag colors, Zakumi has a simple white shirt.
7. Fuleco: World Cup mascots
A national animal also starred as the mascot for the 2014 Brazil World Cup. This time it was a Brazilian three-banded armadillo. “Fuleco” is a combination of the words “futbol“, or soccer, and “ecología“, or ecology.
Fuleco is a supporter of the environment and sports, of course. He loves Brazilian music and bases his diet on fruits, vegetables, and seeds. His colorful body includes the colors blue (his back) and yellow (his front) and he has a pair of green shorts. Altogether, the colors represent the Brazilian flag.
We met Zabivaka the wolf in the last World Cup. Zabivaka has a white and blue shirt as well as a pair of red sunglasses in honor of the Russian flag.
Zabivaka– shown in the featured image– was designed by student Ekaterina Bocharova and beat the other mascots in an online vote. In the design contest, Zabivaka took 53 percent of the votes while the tiger only won 27 percent and the cat, 20 percent. In Russian, “Zabivaka” means “little scorer”.
To wrap up our post, the other World Cup mascots were: Juanito (1970 Mexico), Tip and Tap (1974 Germany), Guachito Mundialito (Argentina 1978), Pique (1986 Mexico), The Spheriks (2002 Korea-Japan) and Goleo VI (2006 Germany).