FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football has named an endangered armadillo as the next mascot of the World Cup, bringing awareness to an issue much larger than it seems.

The endangered animal is a three-banded armadillo, currently classified as “vulnerable to extinction.” Though it was found all over Brazil, it has pretty much been taken over by ranches and soybean plantations, and subject to hunting. Biological Conservation predicts that there will not be any place for the three-banded armadillo to live by 2050; because of this, new preserves are necessary.

Drawing attention to the issue is exactly what FIFA is doing. They hope to bring forward awareness of the armadillo’s possible extinction, and emphasize the importance of conservation and ecology.

FIFA now has a website dedicated to the new mascot, with a kid-friendly atmosphere making it easy to read up on all of his details. He tells us that, “Something you should know about me is that, as a Brazilian three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus), I belong to one of only two species of armadillo with the ability to roll up into a tight, almost impenetrable ball. When we armadillos do this, the ears are tucked into the shell and the head and tail interlock to seal the shell completely. When threatened, sometimes we do not seal our armour completely, but wait until we are touched. The loose armour of the three-banded armadillo creates a layer of air between the shell and the body, which insulates us and we can therefore travel to parts of Brazil considered too dry for other animals. Cool, huh?” Yes, unnamed armadillo – pretty cool, and a great way to get involved.

Brazilian fans are excited about the armadillo, but his name choices aren’t really winning them over.  The local organizers narrowed it down to Amijubi, Fuleco and Zuzeco, and the online polls gave an underwhelming response. According to Sports Illustrated, more than 23,000 people have signed an online petition demanding a “more democratic” approach in which fans could make suggestions. But organizers say that isn’t going to happen.

The three names come from a mix of Brazilian words which represent a combination of friendliness, joy and ecology. Amijubi uses the words “amizade” (friendship) and “jubilo” (joy), Fuleco takes from “futebol” (football) and “ecologia” (ecology), and Zuzeco is drawn from “azul” (blue) and “ecologia” (ecology).

The winner of the public voting on FIFA’s website will be announced on Nov. 25.


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