Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
AP/Press Association Images
# costume drama
Green-haired leopards, chilli peppers, armadillos and more of the greatest mascots in World Cup history
What would we do without these stuffed, cutesy creations?

WHAT WOULD WE do without World Cup mascots?

Pitches would become water-logged, balls would be forever deflated and there would be absolutely no way to tell one quadrennial football tournament from the next.

Just as well then, that modern football – nay, civilisation – has brought us loveable, entertaining and only sometimes creepy World Cup mascots since 1966. Just as well, because we can’t think of a single other thing that happened at that tournament.

Here are eight of our favourite efforts.

8. Ato, Kaz and Nik (Japan & South Korean 2002)

Probably the creepiest mascot to make our list, but damn it if the ‘Spheriks’ didn’t perfectly capture the madness of the first Asian World Cup.

International Soccer - World Cup 2002 Draw - BEXCO Exhibition Centre - Busan EMPICS Sport EMPICS Sport

7.  Fuleco (Brazil 2014)

This lovable three-banded armadillo is new to us, so he has the summer to win his way further into our hearts.

Brazil WCup Soccer AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

6. Pique (Mexico 1986)

Tell the truth, you didn’t need me to tell you which World Cup this was from. No, the moustachioed sombrero-wearing chilli pepper made every effort to reinforce Mexican stereotypes.

Soccer - World Cup Mexico 86 S&G and Barratts / EMPICS Sport S&G and Barratts / EMPICS Sport / EMPICS Sport

5. Striker (USA 1994)

Good dog.

Soccer - World Cup USA '94 - Tournament Mascot EMPICS Sport EMPICS Sport

4. Zakumi (South Africa 2010)

The last World Cup mascot was the first big cat not to be a lion, so the leopard went all out and dyed his hair green.

Bonus points for having Shakira in tow, natch.

South Africa Soccer WCup Shakira AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

3.Goleo VI (Germany 2006)

We’re not quite sure what happened to the previous five Goleos, but in 2006 football fans all over Germany were stalked by this cuddly lion.

Exclusive Six
Nations Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella’s exclusive analysis of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign this spring

Become a Member

He looks much better in the flesh than he does on paper, but are we absolutely sure it’s not a bear?

Soccer - 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany - Final - Italy v France - Olympiastadion - Berlin EMPICS Sport EMPICS Sport

2. Ciao (Italy 1990)

If ever there was an argument for not over-thinking these things, the organisers of Italia ’90 can present this stickman gem.

WORLD CUP 1990 AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

1. Footix (France 1998)

Maybe it was a fascination with FIFA-branded computer games in 1998, but France had one cool cockerel.

Soccer - World Cup France 98 - Group E - Holland v South Korea EMPICS Sport EMPICS Sport

21 World Cup memories we can’t forget from Japan and South Korea ’02

The evolution of the official World Cup football in one cool pic

Your Voice
Readers Comments