Imagine a screen measuring 40,000m² in total on one of Moscow's most recognisable buildings. This is exactly what the crowd gathered on Sparrow Hills in the Russian capital were treated to, as they first caught a glimpse of the Official Mascot candidates for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
On Friday at exactly 20:18, spectators who had come for the Circle of Light Moscow International Festival, held at Moscow State University (MSU), laid eyes on the three characters competing to be the fun face of the tournament in two years' time.
The images were shown on the front of the main building of MSU, one of the largest structures in the whole of the city. Built in 1953, this university is the alma mater of some of Russia's brightest talents, but it also has a direct link to the upcoming football tournament. Moscow's FIFA Fan Fest for the 2018 World Cup will be held here and the view from MSU above the city opens out onto a stunning panorama that includes the Luzhniki Stadium, where the Opening Match and Final will take place.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of the audience at this impressive multimedia show was made up of students at the university.
“Honestly speaking I thought the rainy weather would spoil the celebration. But I forgot about it when the show began”, 19-year-old Inna Kosheleva said. “I’m surprised how cool it looked. I about freezed, but got the brightest pleasure."
Using projectors and lasers, the figures of a tiger, a wolf and a cat appeared on what collectively was the biggest screen anywhere in the world. In just 45 seconds, they revealed themselves to the amazed audience and nimbly skipped between the three projections, even performing a few tricks with a football.
“A tiger, a cat or a wolf? All looked so impressive that I can’t choose. I’ll go back home, study all the candidates profiles and look at the videos once more and then I'll decide”, 20-year old Grigory Rudnev said.
A massive football celebration will engulf Russia in just under two years, but one of the most important steps for the World Cup host nation is already underway. Over the next four weeks, Russia will get a delightful taste of what is to come as the country chooses which character is best suited to represent the tournament and the nation as a whole.
*Dreams coming true for Mascot creators
*Millions of fans are still only dreaming about the 2018 World Cup, but the dreams of three art students, whose designs formed the basis of the prospective mascots, have already come true.
“The campaign to design the mascot taught me to believe in myself,” revealed Ekaterina Bocharova, from the Siberian town of Strezhevoy in Tomsk Oblast, to FIFA.com. “It also taught me to believe that I can make things that people actually like. However, the main thing it taught me was to do what I love and then everything will work out.
“My wolf also has his own dreams and desires, but he's also driven and responsible. I created him to be an example for young fans and to inspire them to achieve things they never thought they could do.”
“Of course, my little tiger is simply mad about football,” said Valeriya Taburenko, from Obninsk near Moscow, about her creation. “The dynamic qualities of the sport really enthral him, but aside from football he wants to reach the stars and be an astronaut as well! He believes that soon the World Cup will go beyond Earth and might even unite people from different planets.”
“My character is agile, energetic and never misses a single ball, but at the same time he never loses his feline tendencies, so sometimes he might stop to play with it for a bit,” revealed the cat's creator Sofia Podlesnykh, from Staraya Russa in Novgorod Oblast. “When I drew him, I hadn't thought of his life story, but now he has a family, brothers and even a birthday. Taking part in this project taught me a lot of new things, like developing a mascot from the initial sketches to the moment it comes to life.”