Mascots are the main characters of World Cups and often represent the culture of the organizing country. Although the World Cups began to be played in 1930, it was only in 1966 that mascots appeared in England. Counting the Qatar 2022 World Cup, there are 15 mascots accompanying the biggest football event.
England 1966 – Willie
He was the first mascot of the World Cups and was represented by a lion wearing that country’s jersey. The character was created by a children’s illustrator and got his own comic book shortly after the World Cup was over.
Mexico 1970 – Juanito
The representation of this world cup was in Juanito, an innocent boy who is a football lover and wears a traditional Mexican hat. He was wearing a Mexican team jersey and the ball, as well as a huge smile that captivated the fans.
Germany 1974 – Tip and Tap
For the first time in that short history of mascots, the World Cup was represented by two characters. The idea of the organizers was to show unity in a divided country. It is named after a traditional children’s game.
Argentina 1978 – Gauchito
As in 1970, a child character was once again chosen to represent a World Cup. The dress was traditional for a gaucho character: hat, scarf and whip. He wore the jersey of the champion Argentina team in that event.
Spain 1982 – Naranjito
For many, it was the most remembered mascot in World Cup history, and for the first time a fruit represented a World Cup. Its creators were a man and a woman who decided on the typical fruit of Spain. It was so important to have your own television show.
Mexico 1986 – Pike
Mexico was hosting the World Cup once again, and what better way to represent itself with their beloved chili pepper? The character wore a traditional Mexican sombrero and mustache.
Italy 1990 – Çav
For the first time in history, creation was made outside of the tradition of humans, animals or fruits, and on this occasion the character was the silhouette of a human made of cubes with the colors of the Italian flag. The head of this character is a soccer ball. It became one of the most criticized pets, and because at that time Italians did not feel represented.
USA 1994 – Striker
Animals are back as pets, and it was a dog at this World Cup. Character Warner Bros. was created by, he wore the jersey of that country’s national team and bonded with the fans. His name means striker in Spanish.
France 1998 – Footix
Another time an animal was chosen as the World Cup mascot. It was a rooster, the most traditional animal for the French. Footix wears the colors of the French flag and was chosen for the first time after a competition of designers from that country.
Korea-Japan 2002 – Ato, Kaz and Nik
It is the first joint venue between the two countries and the first time three characters are the mascots of the event. The idea was born to represent some entity from another planet playing a football-like sport. The three of them had their own dramas and the name was first chosen by netizens.
Germany 2006 – Goal
Germany was once again holding the World Cup and as in 1966 a lion was chosen to represent this event. Goleo was criticized by the Germans for saying that the lion was a British animal. The mascot was created by the same company that created the famous Muppets.
South Africa 2010 – Zakumi
The leopard was the best representation of the culture of this African country. The name was chosen for ‘Za’, the code representing South Africa, and ‘Kumi’ meaning 10 in many African dialects, the World Cup year. His colors are green and yellow and he carries a ball in his hand.
Brazil 2014 – Fuleco
Once again, the mascot of the World Cup was an animal, and this time the chosen one was an armadillo, listed as endangered. The name was chosen by the football fans in that country and it means ‘soccer’ and ‘ecology’. It was the first pet in history to have its own social networks.
Russia 2018 – Zabikaba
A wolf was chosen as the mascot for this World Cup, and its creator was a Russian design student. The wolf wears a uniform in the colors of the Russian flag and plays with the ball. He wears glasses and has been chosen by nearly a million Internet users who consider him the best choice.
Qatar 2022 – La’eeb
It was inspired by the traditional turban used by the Qataris, and after several years of keeping animals as pets, they chose a character this time compared to a ghost. The name comes from the Arabic word for ‘talented actor’.
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