ince 1966, the World Cup has featured mascots representative of each contest's host nation. In that span, the mascots have ranged from the comical to the strange to the utterly inexplicable.
Continuing the tradition, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil — in which the U.S. has basically zero chance, given its terrible draw — has its own bizarre mascot: A cartoonish armadillo, Fuleco.
So where does Fuleco rank in the pantheon of weird World Cup mascots?
Here, The Week's inarguable ranking:
The Spheriks (South Korea/Japan, 2002)
(REUTERS/Yun Suk Bong)
Nostalgia points for being reminiscent of the Space Jam aliens (pre-Monstar transformation). Negative points overall for not actually being the Space Jam aliens.
Ciao (Italy, 1990)
(AP Photo/Carlo Fumagalli)
It's a Lego stick figure man with a soccer ball for a head.
Naranjito (Spain, 1982)
Syracuse wants its mascot back.
Juanito (Mexico, 1970)
(Undated file photo/Corbis)
A pudgy kid in a sombrero.
Pique (Mexico, 1986)
A jalapeno in a sombrero — with a mustache.
Fuleco (Brazil, 2014)
(Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Designed by a Pixar intern with Pokemon's Sandshrew in mind. The Brazilian three-banded armadillo, an endangered species prone to becoming roadkill, is a pretty poor symbol to represent the host nation's dominant team.
Footix (France, 1998)
A rounded Woody Woodpecker knockoff whose white belly has been genetically altered to spell "France 98." Looks more like a cereal mascot than a sporting one.
Zakumi (South Africa, 2010)
The green hair on this jungle cat would be its most puzzling feature were it not for the disturbing crotch bulge.
Tip and Tap (West Germany, 1974)
(Undated archive photograph/Corbis)
Pros: Two doofy, chipped-tooth, red-faced dudes.
Cons: Midriff shirts.
Striker (United States, 1994)
Possibly Underdog's day job. In addition to presumed super powers, its nickname, "World Cup Pup," is pretty great.
Gauchito (Argentina, 1978)
The kerchief is a nice Fred "Scooby Doo" Jones touch.
World Cup Willie (England, 1966)
(Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A lion in a Union Jack shirt? Yes, please.
Also in Willie's favor: Member of the cat family, can be cuddly or fierce as needed, has his own fight song:
Goleo VI, and partner Pille (Germany, 2006)
(REUTERS/Kevin Coombs/File photo/Corbis)
Everything about Goleo is perfect. He's a dopey anthropomorphic lion. He's got his own Castaway pal — but one that actually responds. He could just as easily be hanging out on Sesame Street or relaxing on a bar stool.
And dude just doesn't care: He's not even wearing pants.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
- Why is American internet so slow?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Don't worry: World War III will almost certainly never happen
- How to take the perfect profile picture for online dating, according to science
- Religious liberty should be a liberal value, too
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Watch The Daily Show mock Fox News' confused man-crush on Vladimir Putin
- The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi dismantles another ObamaCare myth
- The one simple thing that can make you much more impressive
Subscribe to the Week