Described as charming, confident and social, wolf Zabivaka was on Friday voted for to be the official mascot for the 2018 FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia.
The fun-loving mascot beat competition from a tiger and a cat to be elected by over one million voters on live Russian television channel, Channel 1.
Designed by student Ekaterina Bocharova, the mascot is expected to be showcased during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, the forerunner to the 21st FIFA world cup scheduled between June 14, 2018 and July 15, 2018.
The process to select a mascot for Russia mundial began one-and-a-half years ago.
“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,” said FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.
“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.”
Zabivaka polled 53 per cent of total votes cast to emerge winner. The tiger had 27 per cent while the cat had 20 per cent to come second and third respectively.
“I am sure Zabivaka will be a massive hit among fans at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™,” said the Local Organising Committee Chairman Vitaly Mutko on live TV.
“However, his role goes far beyond simply being popular among spectators. Our Mascot is tasked with inspiring supporters, getting the wider population involved in football and inviting them to the stadiums in order to experience memorable and positive emotions. Millions of Russian football fans took part in the vote and this means Zabivaka will do a worthy job representing our country around the world.”
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