One of the rules of the FIFA World Cup is that mascots don’t matter. Unless we’re talking ironic nostalgia, no one remembers one mascot from another unless they have some drug-addled nightmare from the time involving Naranjito swallowing all of time and space while reciting Yeats.
Anyhoo, Brazil has chosen theirs for 2014 and it’s an armadillo:
- Spain had Naranjito the smiling orange in 1982, France Footix the football playing rooster in ’98, now Brazil have chosen an endangered armadillo as the mascot for the 2014 World Cup.
FIFA said the mascot, unveiled by former Brazil striker Ronaldo during a television programme late on Sunday, represented the three-banded armadillo, an endangered species indigenous to Brazil.
“The mascot will play a key ambassadorial role in the next two years,” said Ronaldo, who played in three World Cups and was an unused squad member in 1994, on Brazilian television.
“I’m sure he will inspire many young football fans in Brazil and all over the world with the great passion which he has for the sport and for his country.”
The internet, which moves at the speed of snark, is already quickly abuzz with a little know fact about armadillos.
Like, if you touch them, you could get leprosy.
Armadillos have never been among the cuddly creatures routinely included in petting zoos, but on Wednesday federal researchers offered a compelling reason to avoid contact with the armored animals altogether: They are a source of leprosy infections in humans.
Using genetic sequencing machines, researchers were able to confirm that about a third of the leprosy cases that arise each year in the United States almost certainly result from contact with infected armadillos. The cases are concentrated in Louisiana and Texas, where some people hunt, skin and eat armadillos.
This is particularly hilarious considering it’s the job of mascots to repeatedly fondle players, PR reps, and assorted FIFA higher-ups. No doubt this story will get some mainstream play over the next few days, and eventually end up in various condemnatory op-eds over the slowness of preparations in Brazil ahead of kick-off. It’s the circle of life.