FIFA, soccer's global governing body, announced Monday that its mascot for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be called Fuleco, a name that won in a popular vote of more than 1.7 million people.
Fuleco, a term that combines "futebol" (soccer in Portuguese) and ecology, came out top among the three finalist names for the armadillo chosen to be the world championship's mascot.
Brazil's three-banded armadillo, Tolypeutes tricinctus, is an endangered species known for its ability to roll itself into a protective spherical shell - which looks something like a soccer ball.
Since the mascot's official introduction, its popularity has surged, according to figures from a FIFA follow-up survey showing that 89 percent of Brazilians now know the mascot, which scored 7.3 out of a possible 10 as a character people find likeable.
Those interviewed associate the mascot with nature, a passion for soccer and friendliness, which puts it well in line with FIFA's idea that the World Cup should push the importance of the environment.
FIFA and the organizers of Brazil 2014 believe the mascot, as an endangered species, "can play a crucial role in promoting environmental awareness" and can "encourage people to behave in an environmentally friendly way." EFE