In April, Fifa announced the official mascot for the 2022 Qatar World Cup. La’eeb is based on a Gutra or a Keffiyeh, which is an Arabic headdress, a traditional Qatari piece of clothing.
The actual name of the mascot, La’eeb, is an Arabic word that translates to “super-skilled player”, though as many fans have pointed out, La’eeb’s design doesn’t actually have any legs or feet.
Fifa hopes that La’eeb will bring the joy of football to everyone, and is included in their announcement that he lives in the “mascot-verse”, where all of the previous World Cup mascots live. There has also been a big focus on the social media aspect of a World Cup mascot - as Fifa announced that there will be downloadable GIFs and stickers as well as screensavers and filters that will be available on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat and Whatsapp.
In the announcement video, La’eeb travels to the mascot-verse, which has cameos from many iconic mascots from the past and even shows La’eeb having a hand in some of the most iconic World Cup goals - Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ and Robin van Persie’s diving header.
For a World Cup mascot, there are usually two distinct categories - a person (usually a child) or an anthropomorphic animal (usually native to the host country). However, La’eeb is neither of these. As the first World Cup hosted in the Middle East, the Qatar mascot is inspired by clothing that everyone in that area can recognise and relate to, rather than a stereotypical animal such as a camel.