RIO DE JANEIRO: An armadillo is the not-so-secret weapon to put a happy confident face on the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil – with the local organising committee and FIFA hoping that the creature will help erase bad memories of all the scandals surrounding former Brazil football dictator Ricardo Teixeira writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter and secretary-general Jerome Valcke will be happy to share the stage and the photo opportunities with the Brazilian three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus – a creature indigenous to the country) to put a positive front on the often-troubled preparations.

The latest successor to World Cup Willie . . .

Their new pal was officially launched as part of Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo’s weekly  Fantástico  entertainment  show, where it was welcomed by former World Cup-winner Ronaldo, who is a member of the COL management board.

The one-time Barcelona, Inter and Real Madrid striker said: “I’m delighted to welcome such an important member to the 2014 team.


“The mascot will play a key ambassadorial role in the next two years. I’m sure he will inspire many young football fans in Brazil and all over the world with the great passion which he has for the sport and for his country.”

The introduction followed a week of activities in which the mascot made a series of appearances at events across Brazil.

This included the distribution of 2,014 blue balls representing his unique blue shell on the Boa Viagem beach in Recife, an aooearance with Ronaldo in São Paulo as well as introductions to local fans through digital appearances during live football broadcasts. The Official Mascot also has his own official song: Tatu Bom de Bola, sung by Arlindo Cruz.

The design was chosen after FIFA and the LOC had analysed 47 proposals created by six Brazilian agencies. Extensive research followed among its primary target audience: Brazilian children aged between five and 12 who largely favoured the armadillo, created by 100% Design.

Valcke, FIFA’s World Cup progress-chaser, said: “The fact that the three-banded armadillo is a vulnerable species is very fitting. One of the key objectives through the 2014 FIFA World Cup is to use the event as a platform to communicate the importance of the environment and ecology. We are glad to be able to do so with the help of a mascot who I’m sure will be much-loved, not only in Brazil, but all over the world.”

A public competition to name the mascot will run  middle of November. The three options, chosen by a judging committee including Bebeto, Arlindo Cruz, Thalita Rebouças, Roberto Duailibi and Fernanda Santos, are Amijubi – a representation of friendliness and joy – and two names which link to the ecological message, Fuleco and Zuzeco.

The commercial tradition of a mascot began in 1966 in England with World Cup Willie.

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