Rubix Mascot

Italy has a lot going for it, and that makes me proud to be a Palermo (yup, it’s Italian, for real.).  They claim some of the yummiest foods that we eat too much of- pasta, pizza, calzone, tiramisu, yummy! They are home to some of the most beautiful architecture- Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Colosseum, The Pantheon.  While technically a separate city-state, it is basically home to the religious mecca of The Vatican.  Sounds like there’s nothing it can’t do!!… Except for mascots.

In 1990, Italy hosted the World Cup and watched their team finish third overall, losing to Argentina and West Germany (the Berlin Wall didn’t come down until 1991!).  This World Cup was known for defensive play, with few goals scored, and dependency on shootouts.  There were also a record number of red cards awarded to those who don’t care to follow the rules.  But the real red card should have gone to whoever created this mascot:
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It’s pretty much half of a busted Rubix Cube with a soccer ball balancing on top.  How was this the best that they could do?  The icing on the cake?  It is named Ciao.  Ciao= hello, and therefore shows a cutting-edge level of uninspired.

Thankfully, nobody was forced to dress up as a multi-coloured box mannequin , but there was a sculpture for the event.  That soccer ball head better be regulation!
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Stereotypes Are Okay?

In the United States, society teaches us from a young age that it’s bad to stereotype; that stereotypes are wrong.  Stereotypes are mean, incorrect, de-individualizing assumptions.  This is especially true when paired with race/nationality – NEVER stereotype about a those!  Which is why it is mind blowing to even consider that Mexico did this back in 1986:

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As the host country for the World Cup, Mexico was given the task of creating a mascot for the biggest sporting event in the world.  Their decision making method?  Putting together every single stereotype of Mexico, and shoving it into character form.  So Pique, a picante pepper, grew out his mustache, put on his airy, brightly coloured v-neck, woven shoes, and sombrero and cheered with the best of ’em.
Yes, there was a physical mascot too, but unfortunately not a costumed one.

Pique, the official mascot for the 1986 Mexico World Cup.

Some nations were not very happy with the stereotype approach, and refused to endorse the event if this was the image.  So the official image was this:
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Even though this idea would have been much better (though less informative):
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Political HOO HOO

Ahhh, FIFA, where do I begin with you?!  All of the bribery involved in becoming a host city has been quite a scandal.  But why?  Sure, your country gets mad props, and it helps businesses, but at what cost?  South Africa reportedly spent $4-$5 billion on preparations to host, when really they only made about $500 million.  I don’t get it.  As an economist, this is not a feasible scandal.

But let’s remember the good part of soccer, which is of course the mascot.  The 2015 FIFA World Cup is upon us, and while I have NO idea what is going on, I know that this beauty is involved:
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This is Shueme, which means owl in French, because the host country Canada wants to remind you that they are not the same as the United States, and one of their official languages is French!
Sponsored by the Museum of Nature in Ottawa, she is a representation of the sport’s elegance, strength, peace, and fairness.  But she also wants to be friendly and welcoming.  But also seem athletic, precise, and agile.  And stylish.  Man, she’s expected to do it all.. sounds like maybe there is a feminist argument hidden in here somewhere.  Oh liberal Canada… but I don’t do politics… I just do mascots. Scheme, I gotta say, you’re well drawn- very detailed and accurate, and you got nice legs!
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90’s Kid Happies

Today’s mascot is from the childhood of many of us.  Maybe you’re embarrassed to admit it, but back in the day, you collected a lot of this stuff.  You still have some lying around somewhere.  Your parents spent half of their retirement fund on these things.  For others, you are the parent, and possibly wish you didn’t succumb to your child’s wants.

At this point, you should have it narrowed down to a few things- Beanie Babies, Pokemon Cards, American Girl Dolls.
For the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Japan brought one of those back as their mascot.  Pikachu, the adorable favourite from Pokemon, now owned by Nintendo, came back as their mascot.  Since Nintendo was their biggest sponsor, it seemed only fitting that they would choose one of the well-known characters as the team’s mascot.  And who better than the cutie who is from one of the most popular shows and games in the nation.
May I say, he was very good at it.
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The show’s makers even put all of the characters together as a soccer team!!

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The kids loved him a lot.  He is of course extremely successful in Japan.

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 And he’s extremely successful in the United States, too!  Ya know this one, small tradition we have called the Macy’s Thanksgiving DayParade?  He has his own float, no big deal!
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Soccer is Real?

Every four years, United Statesians swallow their pride and watch one game of soccer.  The World Cup is a big deal to the rest of the world, so we figure we may as well have it on as background noise.

The last time, in 2014, Germany killed Argentina, 1-0.  This is what I don’t get about soccer… supposedly it’s a really exciting game, but it went on for two hours, and there was only one time anyone ever scored.  How is that exciting?!?!  But I digress.
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One of the most interesting portions of this World Cup was Fuleco, the armadillo.   From the news show Fantastico, Fuleco was meant to promote environmental concerns.  This caused controversy because an environmental group claimed that the sponsor, FIFA, never gave any money to any environmental groups.  FIFA admitted that they didn’t ever give money, and were just promoting the idea.  Cheapskates.  It is estimated that FIFA profited $4 billion from the World Cup, so maybe they could have spared a million?
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No Pants

When a mascot‘s biggest criticism is that he doesn’t wear any pants, you know it’s gonna be a mascot of the day.  My dearest Miley Cyrus, people were going ‘clothing optional’ long before you turned 18.  One of the best examples being the mascot for the 2006 World Cup, Goleo.

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As a non-distinct lion, there would be nothing to say.  But he’s never far from his bff-also-a-soccer-ball Pille.  Okay, it’s soccer, his friend is a soccer ball.  Cool.  Why the rose?  Is he asking Pille out on a date?  How romantic!  But dude, wear pants on the first date!  Geez.
They made the stuffed buddy pretty cute. 🙂
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