A wolf, named “Zabivaka” is the mascot for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Zabivaka means “one who scores” in Russian, and the wolf beat off competition from a cat and a tiger in a cosmonaut suit. A student, Ekaterina Bocharova, designed the mascot.
In a public voting launched on September 23rd on Fifa’s official website, and on Thursday on social networks, the wolf won with 53 percent of the one million votes from Russian fans, with the tiger (27 percent) and the cat (20 percent) following.
Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldo congratulated “Zabivaka” on its win.
Local Organising Committee chairman, Vitaly Mutko, talked up the role of a mascot, and was positive about the wolf’s impact.
“I am sure Zabivaka will be a massive hit among fans at the Fifa Confederations Cup 2017 and the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia. However, his role goes far beyond simply being popular among spectators,” said Mutko, who attended the live broadcast of the event, to Fifa’s official website.
Fifa secretary general Fatma Tamoura shed light on the process of choosing the mascot, that ended 18 months after its wheels were set in motion.
To get to the stage of seeing the wolf chosen today, we first collected the preferences of Russian kids through an online poll. Based on those ideas, university students submitted their designs and now the public have chosen their favourite character from among the final three. Eighteen months after kicking off this project, we are extremely happy that the 2018 mascot is the result of a team effort where the Russian people demonstrated their creative flair and their strong commitment to putting on a successful Fifa World Cup.
The 2018 World Cup in Russia is the first time the eastern European nation will host the tournament. Russia are currently 53rd in the Fifa rankings.