Zabivaka the wolf, followed in the footsteps of Naranjito the orange, Footix the football-playing rooster, and Fuleco the armadillo, by being named as the official mascot of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in October 2016, after a public poll in which more than a million votes were cast on FIFA.com.
The wolf, whose name according to FIFA means “the one who scores”, was designed by student designer Ekaterina Bocharova and received 53 percent of the votes cast in the poll, beating out a tiger (27 percent) and a cat (20 percent). FIFA described the mascot — unveiled during a live television show in the presence of Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko and former Brazil striker Ronaldo — as “a wolf who radiates fun, charm and confidence”.
During the unveiling of Zabivaka, former Brazil striker Ronaldo drew parallels between the wolf and Fuleco the armadillo, the mascot for the 2014 World Cup, saying, “Fuleco was a great success in Brazil, my kids loved him. And the grown-ups too. It is incredible how time flies and here we are introducing the mascot for 2018. Mascots are great ambassadors for promoting the event and bring so much joy to the stadiums. 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.”
Zabivaka is depicted as a wolf with brown and white fur wearing a football kit that features a combination of white, blue and red, the colours of the Russian football team. The outfit is completed by a pair of orange glasses and the words Russia 2018 emblazoned on the front of his t-shirt.
Here's a list of previous World Cup mascots from 1966 to 2014:
1: FIFA World Cup 1966, England: The tradition of having an official mascot for the World Cup began with World Cup Willie, a lion, who was the mascot for the 1966 World Cup in England. Willie wore a Union Flag jersey with the words World Cup written on it.
2: FIFA World Cup 1970, Mexico: The mascot for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico was a boy named Juanito, wearing a sombrero and the Mexican football jersey.
3. FIFA World Cup 1974, West Germany: This world cup also featured children as mascots, with the duo of Tip and Tap wearing German kits taking on the mantle at the 1974 World Cup held in West Germany.
4. FIFA World Cup 1978, Argentina: The Argentinian mascot in 1978 was Gauchito, a young boy who wore the Argentina jersey, a neckerchief and a whip, a get-up inspired by gauchos, a type of horseman, which is a national symbol in the country.
5: FIFA World Cup 1982, Spain: The 1982 World Cup in Spain took a slightly different route from previous tournaments with their mascot Naranjito, an orange wearing a Spanish football jersey.
6. FIFA World Cup 1986, Mexico: Mexico followed Spain's lead in 1986 with Pique, a jalapeno pepper with a moustache and sombrero. The jalapeno pepper is extensively used in Mexican cuisine.
7. FIFA World Cup 1990, Italy: The 1990 World Cup's mascot was a stick figure named Ciao whose head was a football and whose body was painted with the Italian Tricolour.
8. FIFA World Cup 1994, USA: Ciao was followed by Striker, the World Cup Pup, in 1994 who wore a red, white and blue football kit with the words USA 94 on it.
9. FIFA World Cup 1998, France: France decided to use the cockerel, one of the country's national symbols, as inspiration for their mascot when they hosted the World Cup in 1998, which led to the creation of Footix, a cockerel clad in blue holding a football.
10. FIFA World Cup 2002, South Korea/Japan: The theme of anthropomorphic animals was briefly abandoned when the World Cup moved to Asia in 2002, with South Korea and Japan electing to use three computer-generated creatures called Ato, Kaz and Nik as mascots for the tournament. These mascots played a game called atmoball, a fictional game similar to football, and were one of the first mascots to be chosen based on internet surveys.
11. FIFA World Cup 2006, Germany: The 2006 World Cup in Germany saw another lion become a mascot, along with a sidekick who was a talking football. The lion was named Goleo VI and wore a Germany shirt, while the football was called Pille, a colloquial term for football in German.
12. FIFA World Cup 2010, South Africa: The mascot for the 2010 World Cup was a leopard named Zakumi. Leopards are fairly common in South Africa, making it the perfect choice for mascot. Zakumi's green and gold palette represented the colours of the South African football team.
13. FIFA World Cup 2014, Brazil: Fuleco the armadillo was the official mascot for the 2014 World Cup. The three-banded armadillo is a vulnerable species only found in Brazil, and making it the World Cup mascot served the secondary purpose of highlighting Brazil's diverse ecosystem.
With inputs from Reuters
Updated Date: Jun 14, 2018 16:07 PM