Fifa World Cup's mascot is a cheeky lion

MUMBAI: The 2006 Fifa World Cup has a new face. Goleo VI is the official mascot.

The cheeky lion and his loyal companion, Pille the talking football, were introduced at a media briefing a few days ago.

In Goleo VI, FIFA has - for the first ever time - a versatile, 'living' character as its Official Mascot. GOLEO VI can talk, dance, play music and make people laugh. Unlike static predecessors such as 'World Cup Willie' (England 1966) or 'Tip and Tap' (Germany 1974), Goleo VI and Pille's enigmatic personalities will add to their versatility.

Fifa has stated that in today's media-driven society, it places great importance on the official mascot as an image with which fans can identify. With this in mind, Fifa chose the Jim Henson Company as its partner in this innovative project.

At the briefing the lovable lion, who admits to being football-mad, also tried his luck at penalty kicks. This prompted Pelé to observe, 'Goleo VI has a lot of self-confidence. Still, he's not quite Brazilian with a football! But as a mascot, he is certainly in a class of his own."

The name Goleo has been derived from the encouraging football cries of 'Go Leo, Go!' during matches. Fifa added the number because Goleo was the sixth applicant for the position of Official Mascot.

In the weeks ahead, Goleo VI and Pille will be appearing in front of the cameras in their own TV series, which will be produced by EM.TV AG for free-to-air channels, pay-per-view television and home entertainment media in Germany. The dynamic duo will be also present at a Germany vs Cameroon friendly match on 24 November.

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