The mascot of the upcoming World Cup is Fuleco, the Brazilian three-banded armadillo who also goes by the nickname tatu-bola. The World Cup Brazil Fuleco character is 14 years old and is born on the 1st of January 2000. He likes dancing, social media, Brazilian music and is dedicated to protect Brazil’s spectacular nature. His name is derived from Futebol (football) and Ecologia (ecology): Fuleco. Fuleco is an ambassador for making the World Cup environment friendly. He is the 6th animal mascot featuring in a World Cup.
On the 11th of September 2012 the mascot was officially chosen by the LOC (Local Organizer Committee). On the 25th of November 2012 the mascot was officially presented while the name Fuleco has beaten 2 other names: Amijubi (Amizade – Friendship and Jubilo – Joy) and Zuzeco (Azul – Blue and Ecologia – Ecology) by more than 1.7 million football fans. Fuleco was presented for the first time on Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo’s weekly Fantástico entertainment show and was welcomed by the one and only Brazilian Ronaldo.
According to research, the mascot creates positive vibes and emotion with people and children, and is representing the words “Brazilian”, “Nature”, “Friendly” and “Passion for football”. Fuleco made some unofficial visits all over Brazil which made Brazilians quickly aware of the mascot. 89% of the Brazilians have already seen the mascot within two days of its announcement. It has been said Fuleco is one of the most popular FIFA World Cup mascots of all time.
Another very important reason for the mascot to be popular, is the fact that the Brazilian three-banded armadillo is unfortunately part of an extremely endangered species. Reasons are deforestation and people hunting in its habitat in northeastern Brazil. With the armadillo being the mascot, FIFA hopes to create awareness regarding this interesting creature which can roll itself up into a ball.
Thierry Weil, FIFA’s marketing director stated:
“Not only is he well-known and recognized by the vast majority of Brazilians, he also seems to have built up a rapport with football fans and is a popular figure, even gaining his own affectionate nickname ‘tatu-bola’. He is fast becoming the most successful FIFA World Cup mascot of all time.”
FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke stated:
“The fact that the three-banded armadillo is a vulnerable species is very fitting.“
Although it seems there is nothing wrong with the mascot, there are many Brazilians complaining about the name Fuleco. Many say the name does not make sense and wished for a name change.
FIFA created a special interactive universe for Fuleco where you can play games, meet his friends and find out what he likes. Kids would definitely appreciate this. Fuleco has also his own Twitter and Facebook account.
Just to prove how popular the World Cup Brazil Fuleco character is, did you know he even has his own song? The song is named Tatu Bom de Bola and is sung by Brazilian musician and singer Arlindo Cruz. Very catchy!
In February 2014 the Brazilian Environment ministry stated it will create a strategy to protect the armadillo’s environment. There are plans to educate people about the risk of the armadillo’s extinction if people keep on hunting. The final concrete plans to save the animal will be presented by the end of 2014. The involvement of FIFA is still unclear though.
The Brazilian Federal Government is responsible for the following small infographic about the three-banded armadillo.