In Zakumi’s Defence Sport & Health 17 OCT 2008

Well someone has to come to the rescue of the little guy. Sure our very own 2010 Zakumi leans towards the rather garish side, what with his bright green hair, big anime eyes and seemingly completely un-African look, you’ve got to admit – he is a far sight better than some of the other candidates we’ve had over the years.

And besides, he is targeted mostly at the children anyway – how else is FIFA going to flog its merchandise to them? :)

The FIFA World Cup started the mascot trend in 1966 for the England competition, with World Cup Willie being the first ever mascot to be born into existence. From that point onwards, each and every World Cup has had their own mascot, with the designs usually representing a characteristic feature (costume, flora, fauna, etc.) of the host country.

And so, in an effort to prove that Zakumi is in fact not the worst of the lot, here is the entire list of World Cup Mascots in all of their glory/infamy:

World Cup Mascot(s) Description
England1966 fifa world cup mascot world cup willie

World Cup Willie

A lion, a typical symbol of the United Kingdom, wearing a Union Flag jersey with the words “WORLD CUP”.
Mexico1970 fifa world cup mascot juanito


A boy wearing Mexico‘s kit and a sombrero (with the words “MEXICO 70”). His name is the diminutive of “Juan“, a common name in Spanish.
West Germany1974 fifa world cup mascot tip and tap

Tip and Tap

Two boys wearing Germany kits, with the letters WM (Weltmeisterschaft, World Cup) and number 74.
Argentina1978 fifa world cup mascot gauchitoGauchito A boy wearing Argentina‘s kit. His hat (with the words ARGENTINA ’78), neckerchief and whip are typical of gauchos.
Spain1982 fifa world cup mascot naranjito


An orange, a typical fruit in Spain, wearing the kit of the host’s national team. Its name comes from naranja, Spanish for orange, and the diminutive suffix “-ito”.
Mexico1986 fifa world cup mascot pique
A jalapeño pepper, characteristic of Mexican cuisine, with a moustache and wearing a sombrero. Its name comes from picante, Spanish for spicy peppers and sauces.
Italy1990 fifa world cup mascot ciao


A stick figure player with a football head and an Italian tricolore body. Its name is an Italian greeting.
United States1994 fifa world cup mascot striker


A dog, wearing a red, white and blue football uniform with the words “USA 94”.
France1998 fifa world cup mascot footix


A cockerel, one of the national symbols of France, with the words “FRANCE 98” on the chest. Its body is mostly blue, like the host’s national team shirt and its name is a portmanteau of “football” and the ending “-ix” from the popular Astérix comic strip. Other proposed names were “Raffy”, “Houpi” and “Gallik”.
Korea/Japan2002 fifa world cup mascot ato, kaz, nik

Ato, Kaz and Nik (The Spheriks)

Orange, purple and blue (respectively) futuristic, computer-generated creatures. Collectively members of a team of “Atmoball” (a fictional football-like sport), Ato is the coach while Kaz and Nik are players. The three individual names were selected from shortlists by users on the Internet and at McDonald’s outlets in the host countries.
Germany2006 fifa world cup mascot goleo vi

Goleo VI

Sidekick: Pille

A lion wearing a Germany shirt with the number 06 and a talking football named Pille. Goleo is a portmanteau of the words “goal” and “leo”, the Latin word for lion. In Germany, “Pille” is a colloquial term for a football.
South Africa 2010 fifa world cup mascot zakumi


Zakumi is a leopard with green hair wearing a shirt saying South Africa 2010. Zakumi’s green and gold colors represents South African national sports’ teams colors. His name comes from “ZA”, the ISO 3166 code for South Africa, and “kumi”, a word that means “ten” in various African languages.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the info by the way!

For more information about this little Zakumi chap himself, visit the official FIFA website here

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.