Last month saw the latest addition to the haul of international tournament mascots that delight and disturb in equal measure. Shuéme, the great white owl, was unveiled as the mascot of the Women's FIFA World Cup to be held in Canada next year. The animal ambassador, said to represent Canada's youthful playfulness, received a varied reception from observers with some critics saying 'she' isn't aggressive enough so doesn't properly reflect the country's competitiveness in the sport, whereas others feel the bird is a perfect fit.
This mixed response got the team at this sports agency thinking; we trawled the line up of mascots throughout the years and here is the ENS best and worst list as voted for by us.
Fuleco, Brazil, FIFA World Cup 2014
Fuleco, a surprisingly cute three-banded armadillo, was chosen in 2012 as the face of Brazil's World Cup. The species, which is native to the country, is classed as vulnerable, sparking a row between FIFA and conservationists over the governing body's perceived lack of work to protect the animal. However Fuleco's message on environmental issues, ecology and sport has become very popular around the world and his awareness in Brazil is extremely high. Coupled with his aesthetically appealing look, he has been a sport public relations win and one of the most successful mascots ever.
Mascot Rating: 8/10 - It doesn't matter who scores the goals as long as you win. Organizers definitely won with Fuleco.
Wenlock and Mandeville, London, Olympics 2012
Representing both the Olympics and Paralympics and named after Much Wenlock in Shropshire and Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the weird pair struck the ENS team as just plain creepy. Formed from the last girder of the Olympic Stadium (or so the story goes), their skins are said to be made of polished steel to reflect the personalities of the people they meet, with the yellow light atop their heads symbolizing those on a London taxi. Though appealing with the target audience of 5-15 year olds, unsurprisingly the duo's unorthodox look received mixed reviews, one critic labelling them the product of 'a drunken one-night stand between a Teletubby and a Dalek.' Then came the appearance fees, with schools able to book the pair for anything from £850 to £2,450 - oh dear!
Mascot Rating: 3/10 - hideous and money hungry! As basketball legend, John Wooden, said, 'Don't measure yourself by what you accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.' You'd expect more really.
Izzy, Atlanta, Olympics 1996
The official mascot of the Atlanta Olympics, Izzy, originally named, Whatizit, was a character with the ability to change its form. It marked the first departure from the tradition of using a nationally significant animal or human figure. Unveiled at the close of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the character was immediately panned, prompting organizers to redesign Izzy with a specific focus on children. Despite the efforts, the mascot failed to garner much popularity. Residents joked at the time that a blue line meant to mark the route of the Olympic marathon was Izzy being dragged out of town.
Mascot Rating: 2/10 - 'Never give up. Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding'. Izzy obviously didn't get the memo.
World Cup Willie, England, FIFA World Cup 1966
The first World Cup mascot of all time and one of the first in sport's history, Willie the lion, dressed in a Union Jack jersey, rallied support and generated excitement. An experiment at the time, he proved that mascots can be inspiring, prompting the characters to become an institution of future tournaments and a competition between sports marketing agencies and design businesses. To date Willie is the only mascot to have his own song which created intense atmospheres in the stadia, driving England on to one of its greatest sporting achievements.
Mascot Rating 7/10 - Back of the net