The World Cup 2022 in Qatar is so close and football euphoria is spreading across the world ahead of it.
With just few days remaining before the first game kicks off, people are enthusiastically awaiting the first sound of referee’s whistle.
One of the “people” with the job to spread the joy of football and the word of the upcoming World Cup is the official World Cup 2022 mascot.
Who is the mascot for World Cup in Qatar, what’s his name, what he represents, and how he looks like? We will cover all of that in our article, so make sure to check it out.
What Is the World Cup 2022 Mascot?
We’ve seen many iconic World Cup mascots in the past and some of them will forever be engraved in our memory. Will that be the case with La’eeb, the official mascot for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar?
Although many would consider La’eeb to be a gutra, or keffiyeh, which is a cloth headdress that’s commonly worn in Qatar, the marketing team behind the mascot says that “La’eeb isn’t supposed to have a fixed anthropomorphic identity”.
Instead, La’eeb should be a fun, mischievous character and be whatever football fans want him to be, a figment of their imagination, with the ability to transform into anything that holds meaning to individual football fans.
Also, the mascot’s gender wasn’t explicitly stated, although FIFA used male pronouns when describing La’eeb. In any case, his goal is to bring joy and positive vibes to the Qatar World Cup, using his official motto “Now Is All”.
When Was La’eeb First Reveled?
We saw a first glance of La’eeb back in April during the FIFA World Cup Draw in Doha. The unveiling happened just before we received the official World Cup schedule, in an animated video that told the mascot’s story. In the video, La’eeb can be seen flying through the air while his story is being told.
— Road to 2022 (@roadto2022en) April 1, 2022
Ever since he was first unveiled, La’eeb’s looks and meaning were left open to interpretation, but one thing that was sure is that La’eeb was seen as a part of the FIFA mascot-verse that includes all previous, universally loved mascots we had a chance to meet so far.
What Is the Meaning of La’eeb’s Name?
While the meaning of La’eeb’s physical form is purposely left to football fans to interpret as they will, FIFA was clear about the meaning of the mascot’s name. According to them, La’eeb is an Arabic word that means “super-skilled player”.
The apostrophe in the name of the mascot is quite common when translating Arabic words into English or generally into the Roman alphabet. In fact, apostrophes are used in these situations to indicate specific glottal stops, a unique sound that’s produced when airflow is obstructed through the glottis.
However, these glottal stops are not commonly market in English language, which is why you might also see the mascot’s name written without an apostrophe, simply referred to as Laeeb.
History of World Cup Mascots
Obviously, La’eeb is not the first mascot of the biggest football even in the world. This tradition of having a mascot represent the host country goes back to 1966 and World Cup in England when the first mascot was unveiled – a lion named Willie who wore a Union Jack T-shirt.
🇩🇪 When Willi met Willie 🇬🇧
🤝 @DFB_Team_EN defender Willi Schulz meets the first-ever World Cup mascot 🦁
🍊 Others animals, an orange and a jalapeno pepper have since followed as mascots… but which is your all-time favourite? 🤔
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) May 20, 2021
After 1966 World Cup and Willie, every World Cup had its own mascot and some of them are still living in our memory. The mascots often represented people, animals, fruits, but La'eeb is the first mascot inspired by a piece of clothing, even though though he isn't really a piece of clothing, but a figment of your imagination.
In any case, the next three World Cups after 1966 all had children as their mascots – Juanito represented WC 1970 in Mexico, Tip and Tap WC 1974 in West Germany, and Gauchito WC 1978 in Argentina.
Then, one of the most iconic mascots was unveiled ahead of the 1982 World Cup in Spain – an orange called Naranjito. It was was the first mascot represented by fruit or food, but it was quickly followed by Pique, a Jalapeno Pepper that represented WC 1986 in Mexico.
The 1990 World Cup in Italy had a very unique and interesting mascot. It was a flexible stick figure that had a football for a head and a body made from blocks that donned the colors of the Italian flag. This unique mascot was called Ciao, which is the famous greeting from Italian language used all over the world.
The next two World Cups in USA and France once again saw animals represent the event – a friendly dog Striker and a Cockerel called Footix, which is fondly remembered by many as one of the most iconic mascots in the history of World Cups.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) January 5, 2018
A trio of mascots represented the joint hosts Japan and South Korea at the World Cup 2022. The mascots were called Ato, Niks, and Kaz and they were computer-generated figures that served as announcers of the new modern age. They were also chosen by public voting, which means that they were very popular in host countries.
In Germany in 2006, another lion was the official World Cup mascot. His name was Goleo VI and he had a talking football called Pille as his sidekick. Right after that, another cat became a World Cup mascot when South Africa announced Zakumi, a yellow and green leopard, to represent the 2010 World Cup.
Another animal inspired the next mascot for 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It was an endangered three-branded armadillo, who carried the a football with him and the colors of the Brazilian flag. The trend of animals as mascots continued in Russia with Zabviaka, a wolf chosen by world-wide public voting as the official mascot of 2018 Wrold Cup.
So, La'eeb is the latest addition to this interesting, creative FIFA World Cup mascot-verse and we can only hope that he will live in our memories for years to come, just like his predecessors.