Count-down to 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa

COUNT-DOWN TO 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP

Reports monitored on various websites show that the official Mascot for the 2010 FIFA World Cup was unveiled in Johannesburg last Monday evening.

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The mascot is a leopard, which has been called Zakumi, designed and produced exclusively in South Africa. Zakumi is a composition of "ZA" representing South Africa, and "kumi" translating into "10" in various languages across Africa.

"Zakumi represents the people, geography and spirit of South Africa, personifying in essence the 2010 FIFA World Cup. We are certain we will have a lot of fun with him in the lead-up to and during the FIFA Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup," said FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke.

"Zakumi is a proud South African and, as such, an ideal ambassador for the first African World Cup. He was born in 1994, the same year as the country's democracy. He is young, energetic, smart and ambitious, a real inspiration for young and old, not only in our country," explained Danny Jordaan.

The main goal of Zakumi is to ensure the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa turns into a huge, joyful and unforgettable party and also to show the thousands of international guests the warmth and spirit of the African continent.

"He wants to create a good mood for the fans and raise the excitement for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the first on African soil. He is a proud South African and wants to ensure that the world will come together in South Africa," explained Lucas Radebe, South Africa's football icon.

FIFA has had the tradition of an Official FIFA World Cup Mascot for more than 40 years now. The first-ever FIFA World Cup Mascot, invented for the 1966 tournament in England, was World Cup Willie.

For more and current stories and videos on Zakumi and previous official FIFA mascots, see www.fifa.com/zakumi.

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