What makes a good World Cup marketing mascot?

Goleo VI, the German lion is ready for the FIFA World Cup 2006, even as Willie, another football-playing lion that inspired England to victory against Germany in the 1966 World Cup, remains the most popular of all World Cup mascots. Willie's success led to a mascot becoming a regular feature of the World Cup. Of all the cuddly figures, which have been used to promote the finals over the years, Willie still remains one of the most enduring, reported the German newsagency, DPA.

According to Martin Pross, creative director of the Berlin advertising agency Scholz and Friends, Goleo might not seem the ideal choice as a mascot for Germany but he does have some appealing features.

"The lion figure doesn't really fit in with Germany, a country regarded as intellectual and bureaucratic, but who said a mascot has to be logical? The good thing about a fake animal is that he can get away with anything from criticising to comforting people," he told DPA.

These days football is all about international understanding, said Nils Jockel, organiser of a new football exhibition in the port city of Hamburg. He believes Goleo may be "a fluffy, silly kind of figure" but his very lack of significance makes him neutral and thereby unassailable.

Worldwide turnover in World Cup memorabilia is estimated at nearly € 1.6 billion and most of that will be earned in Europe. By comparison, the 1998 World Cup in France generated an income of € 1 billion, with € 1.2 billion coming from the 2002 event held in Japan and South Korea.