Official Mascots have come to play a more and more important role in the FIFA World Cup as they represent the fun side of the event. Cast as a variety of animals, fruit, vegetables and children (plus one or two abstract characters), their infectiously positive attitude have added to the atmosphere of each competition in their own unique way.
Official Mascots not only serve to promote the event and entertain the crowd in the stadium, but also become worldwide "celebrities" through their extensive use by the Commercial Affiliates of the FIFA World Cup for licensing and merchandising programmes.
The first Official Mascot was introduced at the 1966 FIFA World Cup -- 'Willie', a British lion decked out in the Union Jack flag. As well as being a 'live' Mascot, he appeared as a cartoon design that was used to promote the competition and was the subject of the Official Song. Whilst retaining the national interest of the host, the Mascot was used as a way of showing the rest of the world that the event was fun for everyone. Following is a list of the Official Mascots to date:
1966 England World Cup Willie (lion)
1970 Mexico Juanito (boy)
1974 West Germany Tip and Tap (two boys)
1978 Argentina Gauchito (footballer)
1982 Spain Naranjito (orange)
1986 Mexico Pique (hot pepper)
1990 Italy Ciao (stick figure player)
1994 United States Striker (dog)
1998 France Footix (cockerel)
2002 Korea/Japan Spheriks (energy)
2006 Germany GOLEO VI (lion)
2010 South Africa ZAKUMI (leopard)