'Armadillo sketch picked for 2014 mascot'
At the last World Cup, in 2010 in South Africa, it was Zakumi the green-haired leopard. The mascot in Germany four years earlier was a lion named Goleo. Now, Brazil has reportedly picked an an armadillo.
Press reports said world football governing body Fifa on Tuesday registered with the European Patent Office the next playful symbol of the world's supreme sporting event: a smiling armadillo whose name will be picked through an Internet vote.
The three-banded armadillo – known as a 'tatu-bola' in Brazil – is an endangered species.
Fifa would not confirm the reports, but told AFP that the design will be unveiled on Brazilian television Sunday.
"We are anxious to give the Brazilian public and the entire world the opportunity to know more about it during the preparation of the event," it said in an email.
The decision to make the armadillo the mascot was backed by the Caatinga Association, a NGO whose mission is to protect the biodiversity of north-eastern Brazil.
The armadillo was chosen ahead of the puma as well as the 'Saci', a character in Brazilian folklore that was the preferred choice of Brazilian sports minister Aldo Rebelo, according to press reports.