Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Zakumi the Leopard is World Cup mascot
by Mike Woitalla, September 23rd, 2008 7AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  world cup

MOST COMMENTED

Zakumi the Leopard is the official mascot of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Zakumi, the 12th World Cup mascot since the tradition began in 1966, is the third of the feline persuasion after World Cup Willie (1966) and Goleo, the big pantless lion of Germany 2006. Only once has a dog had the honor - USA 1994's Striker.

Zakumi's name is a composition of "ZA," which stands for South Africa, and "kumi," the word for "10" in several African languages.

"Zakumi is a proud South African and, as such, an ideal ambassador for the first African World Cup," said Danny Jordaan, the chief executive of the local organizing committee. "He was born in 1994, the same year as the country's democracy. He is young, energetic, smart and ambitious, a real inspiration for young and old, not only in our country."

The first World Cup was played in 1930, but not until 1966 did the tournament get a mascot, when England introduced the Union Jack-clad lion named Willie.

After Willie, the next three mascots were boys: Mexico 1970's Juanito, West Germany 1974's Tip & Tap and Argentina 1978's Gauchito.

The first fruit to be made mascot was Naranjito, the smiling orange of Spain 1982, followed by Mexico 1986's Pique, a chili pepper.

Italy 1990 was represented by a red-green-white stick figure with a soccer-ball head named Ciao.

Animals returned in 1994 with Striker the dog and the smiling cockerel (Footix) of France 1998.

Korea/Japan 2002 brought us Kaz, Ato and Nik - described simply as "three funny creatures."

The Germans brought back the lion with Goleo in 2006, and organizers never explained why he wore a shirt but no shorts.

2010 World Cup organizers say that Zakumi "symbolizes South Africa and the rest of the African continent through his self-confidence, pride, hospitality, social skills and warm-heartedness" and that he is "jolly, self-confident, adventurous, spontaneous, and actually quite shrewd little fellow."

Zakumi dyed his hair green because he thought it provided camouflage against the green of the soccer field.

His weakness, it's reported, is a propensity to take frequent naps:

"With all his energy, he needs frequent rests. Occasionally, in-between performances on stage, he may suddenly fall asleep on the spot at the most random times."


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Video Pick: How MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal came about     
The best promotional video ever gets underway with Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco and Herculez Gomez, features ...
Making a List: MLS players on move to NASL    
Brazilian defender Adailton became the latest former MLS player to sign with an NASL team when ...
MLS player tracker with complete rosters (Feb. 10)    
The Philadelphia Union signed forward C.J. Sapong to a three-year contract. He led the Union with ...
Klinsmann breaks down U.S. goalkeeping situation    
As the USA heads into 2016 with the Copa Centenario and World Cup 2018 qualifying on ...
What They're Saying: High schooler Marte Formico    
"It's awesome having Brandi. Someone who has been that caliber of a player, that has been ...
What They're Saying: Fiorentina executive Sandro Mencucci    
"In Italy, people love football, but everybody thinks that football is only for men -- they ...
MLS Preseason: Training camp and friendly schedules    
The MLS champion Portland Timbers head home after playing Real Salt Lake Thursday morning in their ...
USA-Costa Rica Takeaways: USA doesn't mess around    
The USA isn't going to mess around with Olympic women's qualifying. It wasn't the 14-0 rout ...
U.S. Abroad: Bedoya does it again for Nantes    
In France, they call it "la magie de la Coupe" ("cup magic"). CF2 (fifth division) club ...
Video Pick: Back-heel Golazo of the Week    
VfL Bochum's Tim Hoogland has his back to SC Freiburg's goal when teammate Timo Perthel unleashes ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives