Infectiously positive attitudes

2010-06-18 11:55

Vuvuzela could be the most popular South African word visitors

have learnt since the World Cup began more than a week ago.

But the one feature that should be more visible than the instrument

is the World Cup mascot, Zakumi.

The happy green and yellow leopard was missed at Soccer City during

the opening match.

However, the Fifa local organising committee in charge of

Zakumi’s schedule, say the mascot has been a very busy boy and his main priority

is bringing out the true spirit of this ­colourful African continent.

But what do mascots do?

World Cup mascots – whose role is to have an “infectiously positive

attitude” – started with World Cup Willie during the 1966 tournament in England.


According to, official mascots have come to play an

important role in the soccer spectacle.

They are supposed to represent the host

country and are usually targeted at the younger generation with their

cartoon-like characteristics.

They have to feature some ­aspect of the host nation’s traditional

costumes, colours, flora or fauna – which begs the question of why a lion was

chosen to represent the UK in 1966 since they are only found in zoos in that


Mascots are a good source of ­income for Fifa as merchandise

branded with the image of the mascot sell like hot cakes.

Here’s a look at what past World Cup mascots represented and

whether they achieved that goal.

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