While the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ has not yet arrived, the tournament continues to take shape – not least when it comes to mascots. On Thursday 11 February 2016, the three designs that made it into the preliminary vote were unveiled.

Who will win the race: a tiger, a wolf or a cat? The three Russian design students who created this colourful trio took part in an award ceremony in Moscow to celebrate the inclusion of their sketches in the third and final round of the selection process.

“It’s a real pleasure to see these young, happy faces,” said Alexey Sorokin, CEO of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC), as he presented the designers with their certificates. “When we came up with this competition, we were optimistic that a group of positive young people would rise to the challenge. They have created captivating designs, one of which will become one of the tournament’s most important emblems and an icon to millions of World Cup fans.”

No matter which of the three animals emerges victorious, the new mascot will continue a colourful tradition that began 48 years ago, creating several memorable characters in the ensuing decades.

Look back at the previous World Cup mascots with FIFA.com by scrolling through our photo gallery!