Every international football tournament needs a mascot, and the Unofficial Football World Championships is no different. But what type of mascot should we choose, and how can we learn from the successes and failings or previous tournaments? The search for a UFWC mascot starts here!
The 1966 World Cup introduced football fans to the first ever football tournament mascot, namely World Cup Willie. The popular cartoon lion appeared on everything from stamps to breakfast cereals, and also had the first official World Cup song written in his honour. Sadly, World Cup Willie by skiffle-king Lonnie Donegan (‘Willie! Willie! He’s everybody’s favourite for the cup!’) failed to bother the charts. Nevertheless, Willie proved extremely popular and set the standard for future mascots. A standard that the organisers of the last World Cup spectacularly failed to live up to.
The mascot for Germany 2006 was Goleo VI ‘the rascally lion’. The pathetic-looking beast was created by Muppet makers the Henson Company, and the organisers rather bitchily claimed he could ‘talk, dance, play music, and make people laugh. Unlike his more static predecessors such as World Cup Willie.’ Ouch. Despite a glossy publicity launch, Goleo was not exactly embraced by German football fans. Tabloid Berliner Zeitung described him as a ‘lame lion crossed with a llama and a bear.’ The newspaper also despairingly asked, ‘Why doesn’t he wear any trousers?’
A much better and more appropriate mascot was Croconile, a smiling cartoon crocodile in a pharaoh’s hat, created for the 2006 African Nations Cup in Egypt. Other animal mascots have included Striker the dog from USA 94 and Footix ‘the smiling cock’ from France 98.
Not all tournament mascots have been animals, of course. The mascots of Germany 74 were Tip and Tap, two young fooball fans. Spain 82’s macot was Naranjito the orange, and Mexico 86’s was Pique the chilli pepper. Perhaps only the creators know what Italia 90’s Ciao and Japan/Korea 2002’s Kaz, Ato and Nik are.
This year we want to introduce a unique UFWC mascot, and we want your ideas and suggestions. What type of mascot shall we choose, what will it look like, and what will we call it? Would your company like to sponsor it? Send us your ideas, sketches and thoughts and you could see your mascot representing the UFWC!