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Fri 31/01/2014 - 17:36 EST

The Story Behind The 2014 Brazil World Cup Official Mascot

As the world’s biggest sporting event, FIFA has done a marvelous job of branding all facets of the event – from the locations, to the teams, to the players, and recently – yes – even the mascots! In the past, FIFA mascots were not given much attention, with some of them even being rather weird – 1990’s “Ciao” was a set of blocks with a soccer ball as a head, 2002’s Ato, Kaz and Nik were…um…we’re not really sure what they were. However, with 2010’s Zakumi, FIFA finally realized the potential of having a great mascot to brand the event. Not only does it give the event a face, but it also is a huge marketing opportunity for children, many of whom will grow up watching the World Cup for decades to come.

The 2014 FIFA Brazil World Cup Mascot – Fuleco

For the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the mascot is the adorable “Fuleco”, a three-banded armadillo whose name is derived from combining “futbol” and “ecologia” (ecology). While Brazil is known for Bossa Nova, Carnivale and beautiful beaches, many people forget that the majority of the country is comprised of rainforests, dry woodlands and open savannahs. Fuleco is a symbol of Brazil’s beautiful eco-system.

So what does Fuleco have to do with the World Cup? The three-banded armadillo is one of only two species of armadillo, that when frightened or needing protection, will roll into a tight ball. The ball looks a lot like – you guessed it – a soccer ball. Mascot designers have made the comparison even closer, making Fuleco’s shells look like the exact panels of the 2014 FIFA World Cup official football.

In surveys, Fuleco ranked a 7.3 out of 10 for appeal. In research he was thought to embody the words “Brazil”, “Nature”, “Friendly” and “Passion for Football”. As the three-banded armadillo is a species in danger of extinction, Fuleco has drawn great reviews from wilderness experts, who hope that this adorable Brazlian makes wildlife preservation a focus for the newest generation.

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