Russia have unveiled their mascot for the 2018 World Cup – Zabivaka the wolf.
Zabivaka, whose name means “the one who scores” in Russian is described as “charming, confident and social” and has “always dreamt of becoming a football star”, received 53% of the one million votes in a Fifa poll, beating competition from a tiger who got 27% and cat which collected 20%. He was developed by student designer Ekaterina Bocharova.
“I am sure Zabivaka will be a massive hit among fans at the Confederations Cup in 2017 and 2018 World Cup,” said Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko.
Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura added: “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.”
Former Brazil striker Ronaldo was in attendance at the ceremony in Moscow and he was suitably impressed.
“Mascots are great ambassadors for promoting the event and bring so much joy to the stadiums,” he said. “I can see it happening already in Russia with Zabivaka just by seeing him on stage tonight. He will surely be remembered for a very long time by football fans all over the world.”