World Cup Countdown: 3 Days to Go – Ranking Every World Cup Mascot by How ‘Hard’ They Are

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For some reason, back in 1966, a mere 36 years after the first ever World Cup, somebody decided that the biggest tournament in football needed a big, fluffy creature to promote it. 

With that strange decision came the arrival of the ‘Official World Cup Mascot’, and ever since, our lives have been blessed with whatever the inhabitants of the host nation decide to thrust upon us. 

Anyways, they’re here to stay. So for no apparent reason, here is a ranking of every single one in order of how hard they are. Enjoy…

World Cup Willie – England 1966 

Absolute melt. Just look at him. Its a shame that England’s first ever World Cup title had this pathetic, snivelling creature associated with it, and it could be said that the Three Lions’ failings at international level ever since lie solely at the feet of World Cup Willie. 

Isn’t fit to wear the great Union Jack flag on his chest, and would get banged out by any other mascot on this list, which is saying something, as most of them are pretty soft. 


Juanito – Mexico 1970

There’s something sinister about Juanito, the mascot for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. On the outside, he looks like a harmless, innocent chap just looking to promote a football tournament, but deep down, he seems like he could handle himself in a scrap. 

Just look at that smile. It seems too forced. Juanito is almost definitely overcompensating for something, and one wouldn’t want to run into him in a dark alley. 


Tip and Tap – West Germany 1974

These lads look pretty hard. On their own, either of them look like they’d beat you up and take your lunch money, but together, they’re a force to be reckoned with. 

Their friendly smiles looks inviting at first and you’d be well placed to stay in their good books, but something tells me that their smile would soon change should you rub them up the wrong way. 


Gauchito – Argentina 1978 

Gauchito definitely uses that stick as a weapon. You can just tell. Look deep into his dark soulless eyes and you can tell that he has absolutely so empathy at all for anyone; cross him, and be prepared to face the consequences. 

Argentina won the competition that year on home soil, and one seems to think that it was purely because every other competing nation let them win in fear of upsetting the nutter that is Gauchito. 


Naranjito – Spain 1982

Naranjito is definitely the tamest mascot in the history of the World Cup. If he even tried to start on you, you could just push him over and watch him struggle to get up; easy work. 

Having said all of this, however, that stalk on top of his head looks deadly, and you’d be wise to avoid it should Naranjito decide to start searching for a fight. Not that he would, mind. 


Pique – Mexico 1986 

Take a look at this dangerous individual. Look at those feet alone. One kick to the head and you’re out cold, and god knows what he’s storing under that hat. 

Pique also looks far too pleased with himself – just look at that cunning smile – one dreads to think what could’ve made him look so unnervingly satisfied. 


Ciao – Italy 1990 

Without a doubt one of the hardest mascots in the history of the World Cup. You wouldn’t know which limb (or block?!) would be swinging your way should you enter into combat with this absolute weapon. 

No facial features also suggest that ‘Ciao’ is an emotionless entity who shows no remorse at the fate of his victims; one would imagine that ‘ciao’ is what he utters to his victims before dispatching of them. 


Striker the World Cup Pup – USA 1994

Striker the World Cup Pup joins World Cup Willie and Naranjito as one of the softest mascots in the history of the tournament. If we were to cut him some slack, he is only a pup and could yet develop into a lean, mean fighting machine. 

For now, however, Striker is about as useful in a fight as a chocolate teapot would be for, well, making tea. Obviously. 


Footix – France 1998 

The true alpha-male of the mascot world, Footix is in fact the father (yes, really) of Ettie, the mascot for the 2019 women’s World Cup. This alone just goes to show that whilst the spiky-beaked creature should’ve been promoting a national tournament, he was in fact on the pull. 

Footix was clearly successful in doing the aforementioned, and coupled with France’s success on home soil that year, it wasn’t a bad couple of months for our feathered friend who would most certainly peck you to death should you question him on his antics at the 1998 World Cup.  


Ato, Kaz & Nik – South Korea/Japan 2002

Forget any negativity aimed at their individual qualities to equip themselves in combat, Ato, Kaz and Nik are a force to be reckoned with and epitomise the phrase ‘safety in numbers’. 

If you were to take on just one of them, you may stand a chance (except Ato, look at the size of him). However, the mascots for the 2002 tournament are inseparable; mess with one of them, you mess with all of them, and you’d be a fool to do that. 


 Goleo VI – Germany 2006 

Try to look at Goleo and tell me, with confidence, that he doesn’t strike just a bit of fear into you. Just his raised arm alone looks dastardly, as if he is summoning his next victim to challenge him. 

Additionally, the 2006 mascot also has the look of a lion who has nothing to lose, whilst his over excitable little sidekick tucked under his arm is also not to be trusted. 



Zakumi – South Africa 2010 

At first glance, Zakumi looks like a cheerful, welcoming creature who poses absolutely no harm at all. However, one can’t help but assume that the green haired leopard would be an agile, nippy fighter should he need to be. 

Doesn’t look like one to cause chaos, but definitely one to keep an eye on. 


Fuleco – Brazil 2014

Fuleco the armadillo comes armed with his own shell; he is quite literally the hardest mascot in World Cup history. 

He quite simply doesn’t need to be tough or even a good fighter, because once he curls up into a ball, there’s absolutely no chance of causing him any pain. 


Zabivaka – Russia 2018 

We have a Russian wolf on our hands here people, how can this creature not be regarded as hard? 

You can bet that Zabivaka is state trained to defend himself amid the expected hooliganism in Russia this summer. Those in attendance of the streets of the host nation for the biggest tournament in world football, would feel safe in the knowledge that this entity is keeping an eye out for them. 

He comes equipped with his own visor, for safety reasons, or to keep the blood of his victims out of his eyes, you decide; what is certain, however, is that Zabivaka was born to fight. 


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