A photo taken on May 21, 2018 shows FIFA World Cup 2018 mascot Zabivaka, placed in front of the Nizhny Novgorod Arena in Nizhny Novgorod. - the stadium will host four group matches, Round of 16 game and a quarter-final football match of the FIFA World Cup 2018. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Tradition: A Look at All the Official World Cup Mascots So Far

The biggest sports event of the world is less than 10 days away and fans just cannot wait for  the FIFA World Cup to kick-off. 


Every grand event of every sport has certain traditions which are followed by the governing body and football is no different. One of the few traditions that FIFA follows is having mascots for the World Cup. 


Usually the mascot design represents a prominent feature or an animal of the host country, and there have been cases where in the mascots represented the culture of the country hosting the event.


So, here we take a look at all the official mascots the FIFA World Cup has ever had since the inception of the concept.

14. Willie (1966, Hosts - England)

It was in the eighth edition of the World Cup when the concept of having a mascot was considered by FIFA. 


The first ever mascot was "Willie the Lion" which was created by Reg Hoye, who was best known for illustrating Enid Blyton books.


The lion is very much synonymous with England as they proudly proudly call their team "The Three Lions."

13. Juanito (1970, Hosts - Mexico)

When the World Cup moved to Mexico, the mascot was called "Juanito," a common name in the Spanish language and the country itself. 


This mascot was supposed to represent an average football fan in Mexico. Juanito is a boy putting on Mexico's colours and a Mexican sombrero.

12. Tip and Tap (1974, Hosts - West Germany)

When it was the Germans' chance to host the World Cup, they followed the Mexicans' concept in terms of the theme, but made use of two boys instead of one symbolising a unified country. 


Two boys named "Tip and Tap" wearing white shirts of Germany were the official mascots. One boy had a T-shirt on with WM written on it, which stood for "Weltmeisterschaft," meaning the World Cup, while the other had the number 74, indicating the  year.

11. Gauchito (1978, Hosts - Argentina)

Argentina didn't bother deviating from the ongoing trend of using cultural nuances and using a boy as their mascot. 


They drew the boy wearing an Argentinian shirt and a neckerchief and a whip as their mascot and named him "Gauchito." This mascot of theirs received fair amount of criticism for looking almost same like Juanito, the mascot for the 1970 World Cup. 

10. Naranjito (1982, Hosts - Spain)

The Spanish authorities decided against using human figures as their mascot and instead used a small orange with a huge grin as their mascot. 


Its name, Naranjito, comes from "naranja," the Spanish word for Orange. The best part about this mascot was its round figure in Spain's playing kit which was similar to a football.

9. Pique (1986, Hosts - Mexico)

Spain broke the trend of having human figures as mascots and the Mexicans followed them in 1986 when they hosted the World Cup for the second time. 


The mascot was called "Pique" and it was a jalapeno pepper, a vegetable that is a significant part of the Mexican food culture. Pique had a sombrero like Juanito and it also sported a moustache.

8. Ciao (1990, Hosts - Italy)

Italy's mascot for the 1990 World Cup was the perfect example of the saying 'thinking outside the box'. 


The Italians decided to have a stick figure with a football head and the Italian tricolour body as their mascot and named it "Ciao," which is a general Italian greeting that means both hello and goodbye.

7. Striker (1994, Hosts - USA)

While other nations went with humans, vegetables, fruits and stick figures, the USA went with an animal.


Their mascot was a dog chosen by the American citizens and designed by the Warner Brothers. It was named "Striker." The designers gave his dress the red, white and blue colours to keep it similar to the American flag.

6. Footix (1998, Hosts - France)

The cockerel or the rooster as you may all know it was the official mascot for the World Cup hosted by France in 1998. It was chosen because it is one of the traditional national symbols of France. 


The mascot was designed in French colors along with a football in its hand. The cockerel was called as "Footix," a portmanteau of "football" ending with the "-ix" from the Asterix comics.

5. Ato, Kaz and Nik (2002, Hosts - South Korea and Japan)

When it was South Korea and Japan's chance to host the World Cup, they made sure to show their technological advancement in every field as much as possible. 


And as you would have guessed it, Ato (orange), Kaz (purple) and Nik (blue) were the first computer generated and futuristic mascots. The design was created to depict that Ato was the coach and Kaz and Nik were the players.

4. Goleo VI (2006, Hosts - Germany)

The lion returned to the scene along with a talking football called "Pille." Germany decided to have them as mascots and named the lion "Goleo VI".  The mascot had a white shirt, similar to the German kit for the World Cup with no pants. 


Goleo is a portmanteau of "goal" and "leo," a Latin word for lion and Pille is a term for football in Germany.

3. Zakumi (2010, Hosts - South Africa)

The South Africans decided to have a leopard as their mascot and named it "Zakumi." Its green hair and yellowish golden-coloured body represent South Africa's colours. 


The name Zakumi is derived from "ZA," an acronym for South Africa and "Kumi," which translates as 10 from some African Languages, with 10 signifying the year in which the country hosted the World Cup.

2. Fuleco (2014, Hosts - Brazil)

The mascot for the previous World Cup hosted by Brazil was "Fuleco," an armadillo, modelled on the three banded armadillo which is an endangered species found in the South American nation. 


Brazil sought to acknowledge an environmental issue in this design and hence decided to have an armadillo as their mascot. The name Fuleco is derived from the Portuguese word for football and ecology.

1. Zabivaka (2018, Hosts - Russia)

This year's World Cup mascot is a wolf who radiates fun, charm and confidence. The wolf's name, "Zabivaka," was chosen by the Russian people, with over one million of them selecting this name. 


The word "zabivaka" means "the one who scores."  This mascot was created by a student designer, Ekaterina Bocharova.

Looking at mascots at the FIFA World Cup through the tournament's history