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Russia chooses wolf Zabivaka as World Cup 2018 mascot

The mascot for the 2018 World Cup will be a wolf called Zabivaka.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the wolf beat off competition from a cat and a tiger to win the hearts of more than half the one million Russians who voted in a public poll. 

He follows in the footsteps of Naranjito the orange, Footix the football-playing rooster and Fuleco the armadillo to become the face of the world’s most-watched sporting event.

FIFA described its latest creation, 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”.

The mascots name means “the one who scores”.

“I am sure Zabivaka will be a massive hit among fans at the Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia,“ said Mutko, who is also head of the Russian Football Union (RFU) and the local organising committee.

“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.

Other mascots over the years have included ‘Zakumi‘ the leopard from South Africa 2010, ‘Pique‘ the chilli pepper from Mexico 1986, a lion named ‘World Cup Willie‘ from England in 1966 and “Gauchito“ from Argentina in 1978.

Naranjito was Spain’s mascot in 1982 and Footix represented France in 1998.

“Mascots are great ambassadors for promoting the event and bring so much joy to the stadiums,“ said Ronaldo. ”(Zabivaka) will surely be remembered for a very long time by football fans all over the world.“ 

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