The vote was held across Russia over the course of a month, with the candidates being a wolf, a cat, and a tiger. At the end of the voting, Zabivaka was the clear winner as he garnered more than half of the total votes at 53 percent of the one million votes.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) October 22, 2016
The mascot will make his debut at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, which will also be held in Russia.
Zabivaka was developed by student designer Ekaterina Bocharova,who described the wolf as the “youngest player on the squad, but you won’t find anyone faster, bolder, or more skillful with a football.”
Zabivaka, whose name means ‘the one who scores’ in Russian and is rooted in the verb ‘to score’ (zabivat) also reportedly has a rather distinct character.
According to the FIFA website, his personality traits include being charming, confident and social; he is a fair player and always fun to be around; and he likes to make other people laugh. He also wears special glasses he believes give him special targeting powers on the pitch.
Zabivaka’s selection was announced on Saturday on a Russian late-night television show, hosted by comedian and presenter Ivan Urgant. The show was attended by FIFA 2018 World Cup Local Organizing Committee Chairman Vitaly Mutko and former Brazilian footballer Ronaldo.