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Mascots at FIFA's showcase event have evolved over the years, but the 2002 FIFA World Cup™ will see a giant leap into the future of staging. At the 1966 FIFA World Cup™, "Willie" - a British lion wearing the Union Jack - was the first ever Official Mascot of the competition. 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. "Willie" has since been followed by Official Mascots at the nine subsequent FIFA World Cup™:
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)
At the last two FIFA World Cups™, interest in the Official Mascots reached new heights. They contributed not only to the promotion of the event and entertain the crowd in the stadium, but became worldwide celebrities through their extensive use by the Official Partners of the FIFA World Cup™ for licensing and merchandising programs.
As Asia is the home of some of the world’s most enchanting ancient myths and stories whilst being at the forefront of the most exciting developments in the world of animation and cartoon characters. The Mascot project was a perfect opportunity to unite those elements. The 2002 FIFA World Cup™ will therefore feature a totally new type of event Mascots, created using futuristic computer-generated animation. An accompanying story was created that communicates the joy of the tournament and will build excitement right up to the opening game, and beyond.
The task of designing the Mascots was given to Interbrand, a global branding consultancy, which had also produced the Official Emblem for the event prior to the Mascot project. The Local Organising Committee offices in Korea and Japan worked with Interbrand's international creative unit based in London on the development of the characters.
The Official Mascots of 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ go under the collective name of "The Spheriks", because their goal is to create the unique and wonderful atmosphere found at the FIFA World Cup™. The Mascots live high in the sky in a place called Atmozone, where they play their own version of football, Atmoball. The most popular and revered of all those creatures is "Ato", who represents the coach of the team. The key team-members are "Nik" (the blue player) and "Kaz " (purple).
The Mascot designs were unveiled to the world in December 1999, whilst the names of the three Mascots were chosen through a vote by football fans from around the world at McDonald's restaurants in Korea and Japan in early 2001 and announced simultaneously 400 days before kick-off of the tournament. The names Ato, Nik and Kaz were chosen as the favourites from among the received votes cast of which there were over two thirds of a million. Theatrical costumes were produced for the naming ceremony, which gained massive media coverage worldwide. These life-size characters are now to be found wherever the action is in the build-up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup™.
In 2002, the Official Mascots will go on tour around the Host Cities of Korea and Japan. They will join the official Trophy Tour, which will take the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy around every one of the 20 Host Cities. The Official Mascots will perform live for the crowds and create a unique atmosphere for the 2002 FIFA World Cup™.
During the FIFA World Cup™, the three characters will appear around the stadium to entertain the fans. Their images will also appear on many of the products produced by the Official Partners and are part of the licensing and merchandising program.
*The Official Mascot TV Series *
The first episode of an animated TV series consisting of 26 episodes of cumulatively 13 hours of action was released at the end of 2001. Each episode contains the build-up and then the on-field action of a game of Spherikball, played between the fair playing, cheerful Athmosperiks (including Ato, Nik and Kaz) and the cheating, miserable, Nulmospheriks. Spherikball is similar to football in many ways, but with rather bizarre additions including the use of "hotspots", fast-moving tunnel entrances that can spin a player from one side of the pitch to the other in a flash. Every episode ends in a result for one team or the other, and the score in games builds up over the season of 26 games. The ultimate winner will be given the honour of going to generate atmosphere at the 2002 FIFA World Cup™.
All the action of the Official Mascot series is based within the vicinity of the Spherikball stadium, and largely on match-day. The Nulmospheriks, determined to win the game at all costs, are only happy to concoct devious cheating plans to give them a totally unfair advantage. The Atmospheriks, wary of their opponents, know that, though they sometimes enter the game at a disadvantage, but they can compensate with talent and positive thinking. The fundamental message of the Sperikball matches is fair-play.
The series generated enormous interest among broadcasters. The first deals were done in Asia early in 2001 and the fans will be able to see the series on KBS in Korea and a yet-to-be-announced broadcaster in Japan, and over the coming weeks, broadcasters. Over the coming weeks, broadcasters in over30 other territories will include 'The Spheriks' on their schedules leading up to the Event in June 2002.
As well as the broadcast, 'The Spheriks' are being created to be a major entertainment area of the Official Website for the 2002 FIFA World Cup™, www.FIFAworldcup.com. The site was launched for the Final Draw in December 2001 with just a tiny part of the Spheriks area accessible. Since March 2002, this area has been launched in full, allowing the young and the young-at-heart to interact with the Spheriks, playing games, winning prizes and actually becoming their own Spherik character.
The Official Mascot series was produced by two London-based computer graphic animation companies, Slave Studios and Passion Entertainment, who worked together with Furry Creatures, a Romanian animation studio dedicated to producing the top-class gameplay scenes. The series was directed by Peter Bishop; series and written by Alex Williams and Bob Baker. Executive Producers and creative consultants were FIFA's advertising agency HHCL & Partners, and the series is distributed through Peppermint/Pepperkids of Munich.