New World Cup Mascot Slightly Less Horrible Than Usual

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Somewhere in the sands of history, the Gods of Sports, laid down the decree that all major sports tournaments must have mascots and said mascots must represent the bizarre subconscious of an avant garde artist (Atlanta Olympiad's "Izzy"), or look like a Disney character on LSD (anything that represent the Euro soccer tournament). The logic, I think, is kids like people in animal costumes and hence forth, parents will buy kids what they like.

At the last World Cup in Germany two years ago, the official mascot was a presumably lovable overstuffed lion named Goleo. Unfortunately I might have been the only person in the entire world that liked poor Goleo as he was universally derided and the company that produced the licenses for him went bankrupt. At least he was able to cut together a hot Euro-pop dance track before disappearing into the ether.

Today in South Africa 2010 unveiled its foray into the world of mascots with Zakumi, a leopard with attitude. (Think Poochie the Dog with a 'Rock Band' fauxhawk haircut.)

Overall, judging by the photo Zakumi doesn't look like an out-and-out disaster and actually has a back story. The "Za" stands for the country's initials in Afrikaans and "kumi" means 10. He was also "born" in 1994, the year apartheid ended.

My one quick suggestion, loosen up the trousers. The world doesn't need anthropomorphic grape smuggling.

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