Official 2010 mascot makes debut
22 September 2008 (22:20)
Zakumi © Gallo Images
The mascot for the 2010 Soccer World Cup was on Monday night officially introduced for the first time to the South African public on nationwide television. "Zakumi", a bright yellow Leopard, with the customary black spots and sporting curly green hair, green shorts and a white T-shirt was welcomed by Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan, Fifa Director of Marketing Thierry Weil, along with other dignitaries and soccer celebrities.
The name Zakumi is a composition of "Za", standing for South Africa and 'kumi' which translates to "ten" in various languages across Africa.
The mascots "birth date" is 16/6/1994 and according to Jordaan this is of huge significance. "He was born in the same year as our country's democracy," said Jordaan.
"Zakumi is a proud South African and an ideal ambassador for the first African World Cup. He is young, energetic, smart and ambitious, a real inspiration for young and old, not only in our country."
Jordaan said that the whole process of identifying and developing Zakumi took almost a year and stressed that the mascot was designed and produced exclusively in South Africa.
"We chose the Leopard because the Lion and the Elephant and most of the other Big Five are used a lot as mascots," he explained. "We felt that a Leopard was a fresh idea."
Weil said Fifa first introduced the concept of a mascot at the 1966 World Cup in England and they have come to play an ever increasing role in successive tournaments.
"The first mascot in England was a Lion," said Weil. "Mascots are now key in acting as ambassadors. Not only are they ambassadors in representing the World Cup globally, but more importantly this mascot will be a great ambassador for South Africa."
Jordaan, however, expects Zakumi to be more than just a football ambassador.
"Now that Zakumi is here I am going to refer all media questions to him," quipped Jordaan.