On February 9, 2017, the Official Mascot for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India was unveiled at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, in a ceremony attended by Vijay Goel, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (IC) and Praful Patel, AIFF President and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC).
India has hosted major global sporting events in the past, including the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, but for the first time, is set to host a FIFA tournament. A mascot plays a major part in the overall event – not just in the main tournament, but also in the lead-up to it. Subsequently, the Official Mascot will play an imperative role in the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup as a visually strong Official Mascot is a major component of the overall event brand which will represent the tournament and the host country along with the Official Emblem and the Official Look.
The mascot for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India is a Clouded Leopard and is nicknamed “Kheleo”. Kheleo represents the host country and has a strong appeal to the younger audience. It perfectly embodies the spirit of the tournament.
The Clouded Leopard is a wildcat found from the Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia. Kheleo has been created to capture the enthusiasm from fans all over the globe. Clouded Leopards are the most talented climbers among the cats, and have uniquely adapted to an arboreal lifestyle. Similarly, Kheleo is eager to demonstrate his pace, strength and great football skills. He is an emblematic, energetic and versatile, with the aim of appealing to the younger audience. A fundamental part of the designing process was to create a unique and memorable mascot, which will be fitting for a FIFA tournament, the first of its kind in India.
Its total population is suspected to be fewer than 10,000 because of medicinal use and demand for its beautiful pelt. The fact that it is a vulnerable species is important too. The FIFA event allows a platform to communicate the importance of the environment and ecology.
Last, but certainly not the least, Kheleo was born on, June 24, 2001 and shares the date of his birthday with Argentina’s Lionel Messi.