The FIFA World Cup was first held in Uruguay in July 1930. It has been held every four consecutive years ever since (apart from 1942 and 1946) in countries such as Germany, Spain, South Africa, Japan and the United States. It’s one of the biggest and most important sporting tournaments in the world, with only the Olympic Games truly rivaling it for global spectacle. Since 1966, each host nation has chosen a mascot to accompany the tournament. These colorful characters have lit up many a game, and they’ve even managed to cause a bit of controversy along the way. Here we take a look at the fascinating stories behind the mascots of the FIFA World Cup.

The First Mascot

Before the tournament was held in England in 1966, there had been no official World Cup mascots. That year’s contest would be the first time in the World Cup’s history that an official mascot was produced, primarily as a marketing tool aimed towards children. There has been a mascot for every World Cup since 1966.