How Does Brazil's Armadillo Rank Among World Cup Mascots?

Ryan BaileyFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2012

How Does Brazil's Armadillo Rank Among World Cup Mascots?

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    The mascot for the 2014 World Cup will be a cartoonish three-band armadillo, an endangered species native to Brazil.

    Depending on a public vote, the soccer-loving armoured mammal will be named either Amijubi, Fuleco or Zuzeco.

    But despite only being revealed one month ago, the armadillo's popularity has been called into question with the news that Brazilian vandals have stabbed and deflated two separate seven-metre high inflatable versions in Brasilia and Porto Alegre.

    The plucky fella may be under attack, but how does he rate compared to previous World Cup mascots? Take a look at his 12 predecessors...

1966: World Cup Willie

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    The first World Cup mascot was commissioned for the 1966 tournament, and chosen illustrator Reg Hoye came up with four initial designs. He put forward a boy and three different lions, and the favourite emerged as World Cup Willie, sporting a Union Jack football shirt and an unkempt 1960s mane.

    Based on its success, Hoye was later asked to design a red devil for Manchester Utd.

1970: Juanito

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    Mexico gave us the first human mascot in the form of a young boy named Juanito. He came dressed in a Mexico uniform and a sombrero, and achieved worldwide fame as the 1970 tournament was the first to be broadcast around the world on TV.

    He's stepping on an Adidas Telstar ball, an iconic design that had first been introduced two years earlier in the European Championships.

1974: Tip and Tap

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    West Germany brought us two rosy-cheeked youngsters named Tip and Tap, who hugged one another to convey the unifying nature of the beautiful game.

    The "WM" on the left shirt stands for "Weltmeisterschaft," German for World Cup. It's unclear why the shirts aren't big enough to cover their bellies, though.

1978: Gauchito Mundialito

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    When the World Cup came to Argentina in '78, they looked at Mexico's 1970 mascot effort—and then produced something remarkably similar.

    Gauchito was a young boy in an Argentina strip who held a whip and wore a hat typical of a gaucho (the loose equivalent of a cowboy).

    Note the endorsement of a certain sportswear manufacturer on his boots and shirt.

1982: Naranjito

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    What could be more representative of a Spanish World Cup than a soccer-playing orange?

    The very popular Naranjito—whose name means "little orange"—became the star of his own animated TV show Fútbol en Acción, which ran for 26 episodes.

1986: Pique

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    When the World Cup returned to Mexico in 1986, the hosts retained the food theme set by Spain and gave us Pique the jalapeño pepper. Who is basically a jalapeño pepper version of Juanito from 1970. But with a ridiculous moustache.

1990: Ciao

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    The Italians thought outside the box for their mascot design in 1990 with Ciao, a stick figure with Italian tricolores for a body and a football for a head.

    He (or she) remains the only World Cup mascot not to have a face. Ciao was personified, however, in this bizarre dancing clip from Australian TV.

1994: Striker

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    A hot dog might have been more appropriate than a regular dog when the World Cup came to the States in 1994, but Striker The World Cup Pup was responsible for drumming up domestic interest in the tournament.

    Now, the tournament is more fondly remembered for Diana Ross' skills and Roberto Baggio's fantastic hair.

1998: Footix

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    The French may appear to have borrowed Woody Woodpecker for their mascot, but Footix is actually a Gallic rooster, an unofficial symbol of the nation.

    His name is a combination of the French word for "football" and the suffix "-ix," popularised by the comic strip Asterix. Other proposed names included "Raffy," "Houpi" and "Gallik."

2002: Ato, Kaz and Nik

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    The first shared World Cup in South Korea and Japan produced the first trio of mascots, collectively known as "The Spheriks."

    Kaz and Nik play "Atomball" (an extraterrestrial version of football) and Ato (the big evil-looking yellow one) is their coach.

    It's every bit as bizarre as it sounds.

    These far-fetched characters were picked by public vote, and generated millions in merchandise sales.

2006: Goleo and Pille

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    The Germans commissioned the Jim Henson Company to produce Goleo the lion and his trusty sidekick Pille.

    Locals were puzzled that their mascot was a lion—the symbol of England and their fierce rivals the Netherlands—and not a traditional German animal, like the eagle that adorns their coat of arms.

    Germans also objected to the fact that Goleo did not wear trousers. But why would a lion need to wear trousers?

2010: Zakumi

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    Described in FIFA's unnecessarily detailed mascot back story as "jolly, self confident, adventurous and spontaneous," Zakumi the Leopard represented hosts South Africa in 2010.

    His name is derived from "ZA," the country code for South Africa, and "kumi," which means 10 in many African languages.