Saturday 12 May 2018, 19:02

ettie™ makes her first public appearance

  • ettie™ announced as official mascot of France 2019 on Saturday

  • She made her debut on French news channel LCI's breakfast show

  • Met fans and media in front of the iconic Eiffel Tower

Willie, Juanito, Striker, Fuleco and Zabivaka—the list of FIFA World Cup™ mascots is a long one. It also includes Footix, the big blue rooster who made his mark on an entire generation at France 1998. Though he has been just a memory in the minds of football fans since then, he was back in the news on Saturday 12 May, albeit indirectly.

A week ago media outlets received an anonymous email announcing that some eye-catching information about Footix would soon be revealed. And when it finally came on French news channel LCI’s breakfast show, the bombshell was a big one: Footix has a daughter. Aged 15, her name is ettie™ and she also happens to be the official mascot of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.

A worthy successor to her father, ettie will be one of the characters of the competition, bringing joy to young and old alike with her broad smile and sense of humour wherever she puts in an appearance. That much was clear when she stepped out in public for the first time on the LCI set, enjoying hugs and a dance or two and even finding time to help out with the weather forecast.

Former France international Sabrina Delannoy, who won 39 caps for her country, was among those present at ettie’s unveiling. Expressing her delight at the mascot’s big debut, Delannoy said: “I am proud to have the privilege of being one of the first people to meet ettie,” said the ex-Paris Saint-Germain defender. “She’s so adorable and attractive and she really captures the spirit of a little girl who can now find her way into football more easily. I’m sure she’ll be a big hit with children and adults too.”

A repeat of 1998? ettie was definitely a big hit on Saturday. Following her stint on the LCI set, she made for the Café de l'Homme, opposite the Eiffel Tower, where the French media was out in force to meet her. Posing happily for photos with bystanders, ettie made sure everyone went away with a smile on their face.

Vice President of the French Football Federation (FFF) Brigitte Henriques is looking forward to what the mascot can achieve: “ettie symbolises the development of our sport in France and the freedom to be yourself. She certainly knows how to play football and she won’t be shown up by anyone. She’s going to have people flocking to the stadiums in numbers in 2019 and that’s one of the keys to the success of our World Cup.”

ettie will be out and about at France 2019’s nine Host Cities, and though no one knows if she will bring the same good luck to France that her father did before her, Henriques is hopeful she can follow in his footsteps: “ettie is a legacy of the 1998 World Cup, when France was more united than ever, in joy and in victory, at an event that did so much good for our country.”