Seven-metre high inflatable armadillo mascot for the 2014 World Cup attacked by vandals

 

An inflatable version of Brazil's mascot for the 2014 World Cup, a smiling three-banded armadillo, has been removed after it was attacked with knives by vandals.

Bizarrely, it is the second time in less than a week that the mascot, which will be named either Amijubi, Fuleco or Zuzeco, has been the target of vandals after a version was damaged during demonstrations in the southern city of Porto Alegre.

The most recent attack occurred in Rio de Janeiro near the Esplanade of the Ministries, an enormous boulevard flanked by public buildings. The seven-metre high inflatable was targeted with knives and consequently had to be removed.

A pile of earth and iron railings are all that remain where the grinning mascot had previously stood.

The mascot was unveiled a month ago, with Brazil legend Ronaldo talking up the role of the armadillo.

"The mascot will play a key ambassadorial role in the next two years," said the retired striker, who played in three World Cups and was an unused squad member in 1994. "I'm sure he will inspire many young football fans in Brazil and all over the world with the great passion which he has for the sport and for his country."

The reason for choosing the armadillo, which is usually found in north-eastern Brazil and is under threat of extinction, was explained by Fifa's Jérôme Valcke.

"The fact the three-banded armadillo is a vulnerable species is very fitting. One of the objectives for this World Cup is to build a platform to communicate the importance of the environment and ecology."

Real-life armadillos are known to roll up into a ball when they feel threatened.

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