Who are the children involved in top-level football pre-match festivities?
June 12, 2006 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Who are the little kids that stand in front of the players at the beginning of football (soccer) matches during the pre-match festivities?

It's not just at the World Cup that I've seen them, but the sudden increase in football viewing has increased my curiosity.

The children are usually dressed in the same jerseys as the teams that are playing, but they stand with the opposite team as the jerseys they are wearing.

Various googling involving kids, soccer, pre-match and the like has yielded nothing satisfactory. Any ideas?
posted by KevCed to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Googling "world cup children hand' brings up this:

This year, McDonald’s will send a total of 1,408 player escorts from 51 countries to the 2006 FIFA World Cup(TM). Since 2002, more than 3,000 children from throughout the world have been given the opportunity to be McDonald’s Player Escorts at tournaments including the 2002 FIFA World Cup(TM), UEFA EURO 2004(TM) and the FIFA Confederations Cup 2005(TM).
posted by helcat at 8:04 AM on June 12, 2006

I did "hand" because they walk in holding hands.
posted by helcat at 8:06 AM on June 12, 2006

they are the match mascots.

typically, teams will allow/invite one or two young fans to come out on to the field with the team before the match.
posted by netsirk at 8:14 AM on June 12, 2006

Yeah, football mascots. They appear in almost every match, not just at international tournaments. There used to be just one per team, but now there is one for every player.
posted by afx237vi at 8:21 AM on June 12, 2006

I think it's kind of creepy, all these guys walking around hand in hand with strange children. Maybe I've been watching too much L&O SVU.
posted by mikel at 8:25 AM on June 12, 2006

I thought it was kind of sweet until I found out it was a McDonald's promotion.
posted by helcat at 8:39 AM on June 12, 2006

This is something that has slowly developed through the years; at most top-level matches, certainly in the UK, the home team is usually led out by a kid, the "mascot" who afaik was usually the child of one of the clubs sponsors; in the match programme it usually tells you who sponsored the "matchball" for the right to have their child lead out the home team.

At international tournament & champion's league level, the FIFA "fair play" principles mean that partly in order to diffuse any pre-match animosity between players in the tunnel, the tunnel is now full of players & kids; much less likely to be any pre-match "needle" between the players if they're each responsible for a child dressed in the strip of the opposition...

of course, everything is money related, and for this year's world cup, McDonald prize winners are the mascots...
posted by khites at 9:00 AM on June 12, 2006

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