World Cup loser: mascot Fuleco the endangered armadillo

Not to be a doomsayer and not to take anything away from Germany, but now that the World Cup is over, hopefully the plight of its mascot is not forgotten.

There were high hopes that the exposure from the World Cup and the massive audience watching the games would mean much-needed awareness and financial help for the three-banded armadillo.

When FULECO, a rendering based on the three-banded armadillo was chosen as the official World Cup 2014 mascot, conservation groups believed money would pour in.

But after months of talk between FIFA and a wildlife conservation group Caatinga Association, named after the region where the endangered armadillo lives, no money has flowed between the World Cup earnings to conservation work for the three-banded armadillo.

A FIFA spokesman, Federico Addiechi,  said there was intention but nothing materialized, pinning the blame on the Caatinga Association.

Unfortunately, despite our intention … there was no interest from the other side in collaborating with us.”

Addiechi said FIFA’s resources are not unlimited.

The Caatinga Association and the U.S.-based Nature Conservancy were instrumental in getting the armadillo chosen as the World Cup mascot, which was named “Fuleco” — a combination of the Portuguese words for football and ecology. The armadillo was a particularly apt choice because it folds itself into a round shape like a guessed it…a football

Rodrigo Castro with the Caatinga Association told Critter Files in an interview that FIFA offered about $100,000 US over ten years, an amount that was inadequate to do anything substantial. The conservation groups had suggested that $1 for every plush Fuleco doll sold could be donated to help the real three-banded armadillo and more importantly with a tag telling consumers about the plight of the species.

Castro said the armadillo is threatened because of the loss of habitat.

FIFA and the World Cup had this extraordinary opportunity to actually do something. It could have been the first time the World Cup managed to save a species that is endanger of becoming extinct. Instead, it chose to do very little, almost nothing.


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Peg Fong is also in recovery from newspapers

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