NEWS IN ENGLISH – Brazil’s 2014 World Soccer Cup mascot is attacked

10/10/2012 09:33

Renata Giraldi      Reporter Agência Brasil

Brasília – A gigantic replica, approximately seven meters high (20 feet), of the mascot of the 2014 World Soccer Cup was attacked Sunday night (October ), around 2:30 am. The inflated plastic doll was on the mall (“esplanada dos ministerios”) in the center of the nation’s capital near the national cathedral and government buildings. According to DF Military Police, the incident was an act of vandalism. Witnesses said a car stopped near the doll and some people got out of the car. They stabbed, cut, punctured and deflated the mascot replica. Then they got back in the car and drove away. The police said they are investigating the case. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Brazil’s 2014 World Soccer Cup mascot is the tatu-bola da caatinga, Tolypeuctes trincintus, known in English as the three-banded armadillo. It is a small likeable enough animal in the armadillo family. An adult will be about 50 cm (20 inches) long, weighing around 1.5 kilos (3.6 lbs.). The tatu-bola is an endangered species, native to Brazil, found in a limited area in the semi-arid Northeastern region south of the equator (known as savannah or caatinga). A second species in the Tolypeuctes genus is the T. matacus,  known as the southern three-banded armadillo, which is found in parts of Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.

These animals have in common an unusual defense mechanism that was the main reason for selection as official mascot of the World Soccer Cup: the ability to roll up into something quite similar to, well, a soccer ball.

They are covered by pieces of shell-like armor (ossified dermal scutes). The only parts of their bodies that are not protected are their short legs and their bellies, which are covered in thick hair. The armor plates, as it were, which cover the whole animal from front to back, nose to tail, and on the sides, are held in place by flexible bands of skin. They are loose enough to allow the animal to move about freely, shuffling along the ground smelling for prey (they can smell a meal 20 cm (8 inches) below the surface – usually termites, ants and other insects - that they dig up). But when there is a threat, the armor can be fitted tightly together (the nose and tail parts interlock) making it possible to roll up into a protected, armored sphere. The only natural enemy the tatu-bola has are large cats, such as pumas, which are strong enough to pry open their armor.

The tatu-bola was officially announced as the 2014 mascot in September and a replica was put up on the mall in Brasilia at that time, along with another one in Porto Alegre, state of Rio Grande do Sul.

The announcement of the tatu-bola as the World Cup mascot by the international soccer association (FIFA) got a mixed reaction among Brazilians although everyone had to admit there was a certain appropriateness in the selection; after all, the animal could curl itself up like a soccer ball.

Last week, before the attack on the mascot in Brasilia, there was a protest in Porto Alegre and the mascot replica there was destroyed when police and demonstrators clashed. The protest in Porto Alegre was against  “the privatization of public space by corporations.” The mascot replicas in Porta Alegre and Brasilia both had the name of FIFA official World Cup corporate sponsors on them.

Allen Bennett – translator/editor The News in English

Link - Mascote da Copa de 2014 é atacado na Esplanada dos Ministérios