Willie – 1966 World Cup in England
World Cup Willie was a lion wearing a UK-flag t-shirt, an animal synonymous with Britain and the English national side. The very first World Cup mascot, Willie was created by Reg Hoye, who is best known for illustrating some Enid Blyton books. With Willy’s unprecedented success, official mascots have become a tradition in many important sporting events, while Willie has become the godfather of each mascot that followed.
Juanito is supposed to represent the average football fan in Mexico. Wearing Mexico’s green kit and a sombrero, it was a truly unique mascot, perfect for the first FIFA World Cup to be broadcasted in colour.
Tip and Tap – 1974 World Cup in West Germany
Like Mexico, Germany decided to go down the human route, but instead used two boys as the mascot to symbolise a unified Germany. The two boys wore Germany kits, with the letters WM (Weltmeisterschaft, World Cup) and the number 74, representing the year. Of course, at the time, Germany was split into East and West.
Gauchito – 1978 World Cup in Argentina
For the third time in a row, the organising state chose the mascot to be represented by a young boy named Gauchito. The idea received considerable criticism for looking too much like Juanito, the mascot for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Obviously, the main difference was that he wore Argentinian colours and a neckerchief.
Naranjito – 1982 World Cup in Spain
The mascot for the 1982 World Cup was not a human one. Naranjito was an orange, the fruit synonymous with Spain, and his round appearance and similarity to a football was a humorous aspect to its design.
Pique – 1986 World Cup in Mexico
Mexico once again hosted the World Cup in 1986. That edition’s mascot was Pique, a jalapeño pepper frequently used in Mexican cuisine. The sombrero and moustache were added to create laughter, although the design has been criticised for stereotyping the Mexican people. Thus, Mexico maintained the use of fruits and vegetables as mascots, which were first presented in Spain.
Ciao – 1990 World Cup in Italy
Italy decided to go outside the box in 1990. Ciao, a normal Italian greeting, was a stick figure player with a football head and an Italian tricolour body. Previously, many mascots held a football, but this was the first time the football was an integral part of the design. Egypt participated in this World Cup edition.
Striker – World Cup 1994 in United States
For the first time, the American public voted for the most beautiful design for the World Cup mascot. Striker the dog was designed by Warner Brothers, and they chose a dog simply because it is a popular domestic pet in the US. He wore red, white, and blue to illustrate the American flag.
Footix – 1998 World Cup in France
France returned to the use of animals as World Cup mascots. A cockerel, one of the national symbols of France, with the words “FRANCE 98” on the chest was used. Its body was mostly blue, like the host’s national team shirt. It was the most colourful mascot thus far.
Ato, Kaz, and Nik – 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan
This was the first edition of the FIFA World Cup in the 21st century. For the first time, the mascots were computer-generated and futuristic. The backstory is that Ato (orange/yellow) was the coach and Kaz (purple) and Nik (blue) were the players for a team at the fictional sport of “atmoball”. The names of these figures were chosen after a survey on the Iinternet and among customers of McDonald’s branches in the host countries.
Goleo VI – 2006 World Cup in Germany
Goleo was a lion holding a talking football called Pille. Goleo brought back the traditional mascot of the World Cup. The design of the ball impressed millions of football fans.
Zakumi – 2010 World Cup in South Africa
The animal trend continued in South Africa in 2010 with the leopard Zakumi. Coloured in yellow and green to signify the South African colours, his name comes from ‘ZA’ which means South Africa, and ‘Kumi’ which is ten in several African languages.
Fuleco – 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Fuleco was a Brazilian three-banded armadillo wearing a white t-shirt reading “Brasil 2014”.
Zabivaka – 2018 World Cup in Russia
The 2018 tournament’s mascot is Zabivaka, which translates to “the one who scores” in Russian. His name was selected by over 1 million voting Russians.