WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2012 - The mascot for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is a unique Brazilian three-banded armadillo (the Tolypeutes tricinctus), a creature that is indigenous to Brazil, and is an endangered species. It has suffered a thirty percent decline in population in the last 10 years.
The yet-to-be-named mascot was introduced by Brazilian star Ronaldo on Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo’s weekly Fantástico entertainment show.
“I’m delighted to welcome such an important member to the 2014 team,” said Ronaldo. “The mascot will play a key ambassadorial role in the next two years. I’m sure he will inspire many young football fans in Brazil and all over the world with the great passion which he has for the sport and for his country.”
The final mascot design was chosen after FIFA and the LOC had analysed 47 different proposals created by six different Brazilian agencies.
“The fact that the three-banded armadillo is a vulnerable species is very fitting,” said FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke. “One of the key objectives through the 2014 FIFA World Cup is to use the event as a platform to communicate the importance of the environment and ecology. We are glad to be able to do so with the help of a mascot who I’m sure will be much-loved, not only in Brazil, but all over the world.”
A vote will now take place in Brazil to name the mascot from three names: Amijubi – a representation of friendliness and joy – and two names which link to the ecological message, Fuleco and Zuzeco.
The mascot is the latest in a line of iconic characters who have gone down in World Cup history. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Zakumi in South Africa in 2010, Germany’s Goleo in 2006 and all the way back to the days of World Cup Willie at the 1966 finals in England, the mascot is one of the key visuals of a FIFA World Cup.
The Official Matchball for the 2014 World Cup is and adidas ball that has been named the Brazuca. The name was chosen name in a public vote partaken in by over one million Brazilian soccer fans and was announced on TV Globo’s weekly sports programme, Esporte Espectacular by Brazilian football idol and former national team captain Cafu.
* For over 20 years John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon
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