Even the World Cup Has a Cuddly Mascot

By Jane Geelan-Sayres
|  Friday, Feb 24, 2012  |  Updated 1:14 PM CDT
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Kick Up Your Heels World Cup

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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 27: Zakumi, the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa mascot, poses with children during the My School 2010 Adventure to promote the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and Confederations Cup at the Nasrec Expro Centre on September 27, 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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Much like the Olympic games, the World Cup has its own mascot and has had its own mascot since 1966. In the past the mascot has been a Lion (England 1966), an Orange wearing the kit (uniform) of the national team (Spain 1982) and a dog with its foot on a soccer ball (USA 1994).

For the 2010 World Cup we have a colorful leopard. Zakumi is dressed in gold and green, the colors of South Africa's national sports team. According to FIFA.com, Zakumi loves to play football, perform and dance and as the story goes, he dyed his hair green because he thought it would  be the perfect camouflage on the football (soccer) pitch.  

His name is a combination of 'ZA' standing for South Africa and 'kumi' which translates into the number 10 in many languages across the nation.

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