Social media pours scorn on Qatar World Cup mascot ‘La’eeb’ after its unveiling before the draw

Social media has been left unimpressed by the new mascot for the 2022 Qatar World Cup – comparing it to Casper the Friendly Ghost.

The mascot called ‘La’eeb’ was unveiled before teams discovered who they will play in the group stages of the tournament later this year.   

La’eeb is an Arabic word meaning ‘super-skilled player’ with FIFA’s website claiming that he ‘belongs to a parallel mascot-verse that is indescribable.’

Social media has poured scorn on FIFA’s unveiling of ‘La’eeb’ (right) as the mascot the 2022 World Cup

They said everyone is invited to interpret what the mascot looks like and on social media a number of people made the same comparison.

One Twitter user asked: ‘Isn’t that Casper,’ while another responded: ‘Okay who had ghost napkin in the mascot sweepstakes?’

Another user commented: ‘Why is Casper playing football??? The thing doesn’t even have feet like.’

Several people poured scorn on the mascot with Cam Felton writing: ‘Well that’s terrible,’ while SuttonDruck posted: ‘What is this. Like actually what is this.’

WVPitt commented: ‘The mascot looks like the towel we used to clean our kid’s faces when they were babies.’

While a Barcelona fan commented: ‘Why does he look like Ronaldo of big games.’

Another user posted that La’eeb ‘didn’t hold a candle’ to the mascot of the 1982 World Cup in Spain which was called ‘Naranjito’. 

Social media users have compared the mascot of the tournament to cartoon character Casper

Social media users have compared the mascot of the tournament to cartoon character Casper

The World Cup draw saw England put in Group B alongside Iran, USA and one of Wales, Scotland or Ukraine

The World Cup draw saw England put in Group B alongside Iran, USA and one of Wales, Scotland or Ukraine

Khalid Ali Al Mawlawi, deputy director general of marketing and commubications told FIFA’s official website: ‘We are delighted to unveil La’eeb as the Official Mascot for the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world. He comes from the mascot-verse – a place that is indescribable. 

‘We encourage everyone to imagine what it looks like. We are sure fans everywhere will love this fun and playful character. La’eeb will play a vital role as we engage fans young and old in Qatar’s FIFA World Cup experience.’

The World Cup draw saw England put into Group B where they will face the United States, Iran and one of Wales, Scotland and Ukraine. 

The hosts meanwhile will face Ecuador in the first match of the tournament and are in a group also consisting of Senegal and the Netherlands. 



Who’s the manager?

Dragan Skocic – The Croatian coach was appointed in February 2020 as a replacement for former Belgium manager Marc Wilmots and has guided Iran through qualifying and to their sixth World Cup appearances.

Skocic has great experience of the Iranian football system, having worked with domestic clubs  Malavana and Foolad. He has a sublime track record so far, winning 15 of the 17 games he has overseen as manager.

Who’s the star man?

Sardar Azmoun – Azmoun was once a target for Liverpool in the Brendan Rodgers era at Anfield after impressing in Russia. A move to Anfield never materialised though and instead he stayed and joined Zenit St Petersburg, scoring 62 goals in 104 games.

His big move came in January when German side Bayer Leverkusen opted to bring forward his arrival to the Bundesliga from this summer. The 27-year-old is yet to find the back of the net for his new club but his speed and pressing will be a problem for teams in Qatar.

How did they qualify?

After working their way through the deep qualifying pool in Asia, Iran finished top of the AFC’s third round – a round robin system featuring the seven group winners and five best runners-up.

Iran won their group with eight wins from 10 matches, beating Son Heung-min and South Korea to top spot. 

Chance of winning the trophy – 1/5

Iran won their group with eight wins from 10 matches, beating South Korea to top spot

Iran won their group with eight wins from 10 matches, beating South Korea to top spot

United States

Who’s the manager?

Gregg Berhalter – Berhalter was handpicked to take over as US coach back in 2018 when he was plucked from MLS franchise Columbus Crew as part of a huge reset following a shambolic 2-1 defeat by Trinidad and Tobago that saw them miss out.

After an uninspiring first year in charge, Berhalter has managed to make the most of the promising crop of American talent springing up across Europe and get a tune out of them. A former defender, the 48-year-old represented the US at two World Cups – 2002 and 2006. 

Who’s the star man?

Christian Pulisic – The Chelsea winger has been the poster boy for American football for a number of years and had to put up with team-mates that simply just weren’t as good as him.

But now he has some back-up in the form of Tyler Adams, Giovanni Reyna, Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie. With a hat-trick against Panama earlier this week, Pulisic proved he will be their biggest threat in Qatar.

How did they qualify?

It was nerve-shredding but the US sealed their place at Qatar this week by claiming the third and final automatic space in North America behind Canada and Mexico, despite losing to Costa Rica in their final match.

Their place was all but sealed before the game after beating Panama earlier in the week but still, a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica is not exactly how you want to celebrate a World Cup return. 

Chance of winning the trophy – 1/5

Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic will be the United States' key attacking player in Qatar

Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic will be the United States’ key attacking player in Qatar 

Wales v Scotland/Ukraine

England will have to wait to find out who will be the fourth team to round up Group B.

Wales are set to play the winners of Scotland against Ukraine in June to discover who will make the tournament in Qatar.

It means England face the prospect of a potential Home Nations tie against Wales or Scotland.

Wales have only ever reached the World Cup finals once, way back in 1958, when they progressed through a group phase to reach the quarter-finals, losing to eventual winners Brazil in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Gareth Bale scored twice as Wales beat Austria 2-1 in their semi-final play-off match.

Scotland meanwhile have not played at a World Cup since France in 1998 when they were knocked out in a group which involved Morocco, Norway and Brazil.

Steve Clarke’s side managed to frustrate England at the European Championships last summer, holding them to a goalless draw though they were knocked out at the group stage.

England also faced Ukraine at the European Championships a 4-0 win in the quarter-finals.

Ukraine’s delayed match with Scotland comes on the back of the invasion by Russia.


Group stage

Monday, November 21

Qatar v Ecuador – Al Bayt Stadium, 10am

Senegal v Holland

England v Iran

USA v Wales/Scotland/Ukraine

Tuesday, November 22

Argentina v Saudi Arabia

Mexico v Poland

France v Peru/UAE/Australia

Denmark v Tunisia

Wednesday, November 23

Spain v Costa Rica/New Zealand

Germany v Japan

Belgium v Canada

Morocco v Croatia

Thursday, November 24

Brazil v Serbia

Switzerland v Cameroon

Portugal v Ghana

Uruguay v South Korea

Friday, November 25

England v USA

Iran v Wales/Scotland/Ukraine

Qatar v Senegal

Holland v Ecuador

Saturday, November 26

France v Denmark

Tunisia v Peru/UAE/Australia

Argentina v Mexico

Poland v Saudi Arabia

Sunday, November 27

Belgium v Morocco

Croatia v Canada

Spain v Germany

Japan v Costa Rica/New Zealand

Monday, November 28

Portugal v Uruguay

South Korea v Ghana

Brazil v Switzerland

Cameroon v Serbia

Tuesday, November 29

Holland v Qatar

Ecuador v Senegal

Wales/Scotland/Ukraine v England

Iran v USA

Wednesday, November 30

Poland v Argentina

Saudi Arabia v Mexico

Tunisia v France

Peru/UAE/Australia v Denmark

Thursday, December 1

Japan v Spain

Costa Rica/New Zealand v Germany

Croatia v Belgium

Canada v Morocco

Friday, December 2

Cameroon v Brazil

Serbia v Switzerland

South Korea v Portugal

Ghana v Uruguay

Last 16

Saturday, December 3

Match 49 – 1A v 2B – Khalifa International Stadium, 3pm

Match 50 – 1C v 2D – Al Rayyan Stadium, 7pm

Sunday, December 4

Match 52 – 1D v 2C – Al Thumama Stadium, 3pm

Match 51 – 1B v 2A – Al Bayt Stadium, 7pm

Monday, December 5

Match 53 – 1E v 2F – Al Janoub Stadium, 3pm

Match 54 – 1G v 2H – Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, 7pm

Tuesday, December 6

Match 55 – 1F v 2E – Education City Stadium, 3pm

Match 56 – 1H v 2G – Lusail Stadium, 7pm


Friday, December 9

Match 57 – Winner of Match 49 v Winner Match 50 – Lusail Stadium, 7pm

Match 58 – Winner of Match 53 v Winner Match 54 – Education City Stadium, 3pm

Saturday, December 10

Match 59 – Winner Match 51 v Winner Match 52 – Al Bayt Stadium, 7pm

Match 60 – Winner Match 55 v Winner Match 56 – Al Thumama Stadium, 3pm


Tuesday, December 13

Match 61 – Winner Match 57 v Winner Match 58 – Lusail Stadium, 7pm

Wednesday, December 14

Match 62 – Winner Match 59 v Winner Match 60 – Al Bayt Stadium, 7pm

Third-place play-off

Saturday, December 17

Match 63 – Khalifa International Stadium, 3pm


Sunday, December 18

Match 64 – Lusail Stadium, 3pm

Kick-off times and venues for group stage matches to be assigned on Saturday.

All kick-off times where given are GMT.