Doha: On the night of the Final Draw held in Doha on April 1, several exciting news were revealed, including the official groups of each qualified team as well as the debut public performance of the first single in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Official Soundtrack titled Hayya Hayya (Better Together).
Certainly, the introduction of a "super-skilled player" is unmissable as the world met the adventurous La’eeb, the official mascot for this year's FIFA World Cup 2022.
La’eeb, derived from the Arabic word meaning super-skilled player, is introduced as a character from the mascot-verse, a parallel world where other tournament mascots live.
In a four-minute video published on the official YouTube channel of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, La'eeb is shown to be on a visit to the mascot verse with RedOne, a multi-Grammy award producer and FIFA's Creative Entertainment Executive.
The colorful and lively scheme of the mascotverse manifests a bright and futuristic city featuring other iconic mascots which graced the FIFA World Cup tournament through the years.
Nostalgic memories sparked among fans poured as comments under the YouTube video, with some recognizing their favorite mascots while others point out the years that have gone by.
Through the mascot-verse, let's take a little trip down memory lane and recall the iconic mascots which embodied every FIFA World Cup's host nation in the past!
World Cup Willie (1966)
Over three decades since the very first World Cup in 1930 hosted by Uruguay, FIFA introduced a new character in the field. World Cup Willie was unveiled to the public in 1966 when England hosted the tournament.
Willie, the first-ever World Cup mascot, is an English lion who sported a Union Jack or Union Flag shirt with the words "WORLD CUP". Designed by artist Reg Hoye, his creation of World Cup Willie paved the way for more mascots to be brought to life in FIFA's other major sporting events.
In the mascot-verse, you can see World Cup Willie going about the streets of the city, judging an audition show, and even hailing a cab!
Who could ever forget the little boy dressed in a 1970s Mexican national jersey matched with a sombrero, a wide-brimmed high-crowned felt or straw hat, with the words "MEXICO 70" emblazoned on it?
Meet Juanito, the mascot for FIFA World Cup in Mexico in 1970. Juanito followed four years after World Cup Willie as the second mascot of the tournament.
Tip and Tap (1974)
The iconic duo of Tip and Tap was unveiled when West Germany hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1974. The two mascots, depicting young boys, are dressed in German football kits, with one donned with the letters WM for Weltmeisterschaft (German for World Cup), and the other with the number 74.
Tip and Tap are also the first mascot duo introduced in the World Cup. In the mascot-verse, Tip and Tap can be seen playing football with other mascots.
Argentina introduced Gauchito to the public as its official mascot in the 1978 FIFA World Cup. Adorned in colours of pale blue and white, the mascot, depicted as a young boy is dressed in Argentina's football kit along with a hat with the words ARGENTINA '78. Gauchito also sported a yellow neckerchief and carries a white whip.
You can see Gauchito engrossed in a thrilling mobile game as he leans against a fire hydrant, momentarily looking up as La'eeb and RedOne pass by.
Spain broke the trend of the preceding host nations when it introduced a unique character as its World Cup mascot in 1982. From the Spanish word, "naranja", meaning "orange", Naranjito exudes positivity with its big bright grin wearing the host nation's football attire and carrying a football on its left arm.
Naranjito, along with two smaller versions of him, showed a comic moment at the beginning of the video when it bumped on a fire hydrant and stumbled on the surface, causing a domino effect with the two little naranjitos skipping behind.
Two-time FIFA World Cup host nation, Mexico, veered outside the box and introduced a mascot significant to the nation's culture.
Say hola! to Pique, the 1984 World Cup mascot embodying a jalapeño pepper with its oversized sombrero and prominent moustache exuding a cheery yet suave personality. His name is derived from the Spanish word, "picante", meaning spicy and referring to the spices and sauces of Mexico.
Watch Pique's cheery personality when he judged a talent show in the mascot universe!
Ciao says "Hi!" as it makes its public debut as Italy's World Cup mascot in 1990. Its name, "Ciao", is an informal salutation in the Italian language that is used for both "hello" and "goodbye". The ironically agile stick figure is donned in Italian tricolor with a football as its head.
In the mascot verse, Ciao showcased some of its power moves through a game of limbo with other FIFA World Cup mascots. In the video, Ciao shuffled into a cube in order to cross the lowest point of the bar being held on both sides by Juanito and Gauchito.
Striker, the World Cup Pup (1994)
The friendly looking Striker the World Cup Pup is the official mascot for the USA FIFA World Cup when it hosted the tournament in 1994. Striker broke the motif trend of characters before him as he became the second animal mascot after World Cup Willie.
Striker's outfit is a red, white and blue football uniform with the words "USA 94".
Striker was followed by another animal mascot named, "Footix" from France, unveiled to the public when the nation hosted the game in 1998. Familiarly known to fans as the big blue rooster, Footix is also a significant character as it is considered as one France's national symbols.
"FRANCE 98" is plastered on its blue chest as it carries a football on its right hand.
Furthermore, did you know that Footix has a daughter?
During the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, a young French poussin named ettie was introduced as the official mascot and daughter of Footix. FIFA also stated that ettie's name comes from the French word for star, étoile.
Ato, Kaz and Nik (2002)
A new millennium has unfolded and brought to life FIFA World Cup's first trio of mascots named Ato, Kaz and Nik. In 2002, the World Cup was hosted by two nations South Korea and Japan. The trio, also called the 'Spheriks', are from the 'Atmozone', a place where they play their own version of football called 'Atmoball'.
The Spheriks also undeniably bring the football vibe as they strut in futuristic looks in colours orange, purple, and blue. The three individual names were from the shortlists of candidates voted by users in both of the host countries.
Goleo VI and Pille (2006)
The lion made a comeback when Germany introduced Goleo VI, and his sidekick, Pille to the world of football in 2006. The tall lion named Goleo VI is a portmanteau of the words "goal" and "leo", which is the Latin word for lion. Goleo fashions a German shirt with the number 06 on its front as he is always accompanied by Pille, a talking football, to make the perfect duo.
Adorned in the colors of South Africa's national team, Zakumi makes a fierce debut as the official FIFA World Cup Mascot in 2010. Zakumi's character is based on a leopard, which pays tribute to one of the common animals found in South Africa. Its green hair, piercing emerald eyes, and a spotted-yellow body, match with its green short and white shirt with the words "SOUTH AFRICA 2010" written on its front side.
To complete its look, Zakumi stands firmly with a determined gaze and a white football in its right hand.
In the mascot-verse, it's pretty easy to spot Zakumi as he passes by La'eeb and RedOne on the streets, or when he cheers for Ciao as he triumphs in a limbo game, and at one point, he even stops and stares directly into the camera!
Brazil's FIFA World Cup mascot in 2014 was based on a three-banded armadillo, an endangered species also known as "tatu-bola", which is native to the country. Fuleco also sports blue armour and a golden body with a white shirt, containing the words "BRASIL 2014", paired with a green shorts. Fuleco also holds a white football in his right hand.
In the mascot-verse, you can see Fuleco sitting by a building's stairway, having a chat with Striker the World Cup Pup, and even strolling on the beach with a massive surfboard in hand.
A wolf with the name "Zabivaka", or "the one who scores" in translation, was Russia's official mascot when it staged the FIFA World Cup four years ago. The mascot's design prevailed among the other two contenders which sought over one million voters, in which its selection is acknowledged to be one of the most engaging creative processes.
Zabivaka gestures a thumbs up with goggles nestled on its head with a red shorts paired with a blue-sleeved white shirt emblazoned with the words "RUSSIA 2018".
To date, 15 FIFA World Cup mascots have been introduced so far. This year, the spotlight is on La'eeb to uplift and connect fans from across the globe through a common love for football!
Visit the mascotverse to see what these mascots are up to as well as to witness some cameos from prominent football characters, such as Sodeifi, the official mascot for the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup, and Paul the Octopus, who was famed for accurate predictions of previous football matches.