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Fuleco, the World Cup mascot is based on the endangered three banded Armadillo

You may have noticed that the World Cup mascot has been absent not only from the opening ceremony but also from any of the world cup games. While Fuleco has been spotted at events by world cup sponsors Visa and Coca Cola he is nowhere to be seen at official FIFA events.

When Ronaldo unveiled the World Cup mascot in 2012 it was considered a good thing that an endangered species, the three banded armadillo had been chosen.

“The fact that the three-banded armadillo is a vulnerable species is very fitting,” said Fifa Secretary General Jerome Valcke.
“One of the key objectives through the 2014 World Cup is to use the event as a platform to communicate the importance of the environment and ecology.

“We are glad to be able to do so with the help of a mascot who I’m sure will be much-loved, not only in Brazil, but all over the world.”

His optimism proved short lived after the name Fuleco was chosen in a poll despite the fact that many Brazilians had asked FIFA for more alternatives.

But the controversy grew deeper when environmental groups suggested that, if FIFA were going to use the armadillo as their mascot then perhaps they should contribute some money towards its preservation.

According to Folha Sao Paulo, FIFA made $2.4billion profit in the four years leading up to the world but so far has offered $300,000 to an armadillo charity and even this was to be spread over 10 years.

Continental Tyres, another World Cup sponsor, have donated $45,000 but so far that is all.


Is Fuleco actully based on the Arlesey Town mascot

As if this wasn’t enough there are also accusations that Fuleco is actually based on the Arlesey Town mascot, Arnie the Armadillo. There have been accusations that one of the Brazilian designers worked in London for a while, and perhaps lived in Bedfordshire. Or perhaps played part-time in a non-league side against Arlesey Town in the Southern League. But more likely is that this is a mystery that may never be solved.

Here is a video in Portuguese explaining the Fuleco controversy.