Russia 2018 mascot removed from Qatar 2022 promo video
Russian media claim that the move was requested by FIFA
The mascot for the Russia 2018 World Cup, known as Zabivaka, has been removed from the promo video for Qatar 2022 at the request of world football governing body FIFA, according to Russian media.
These claims were made by Match TV Deputy General Producer Vasily Konov who said he found out about the development "by a chance".
According to Konov, the production company that made the video were contacted by FIFA to remove a fragment where Zabivaka, a Eurasian wolf who wears sports goggles and a t-shirt with the words "Russia 2018" emblazoned across it, provides a bridge to the next international tournament set to be held in Qatar later this year.
"They were afraid of the wolf," Konov wrote, sarcastically calling FIFA "wonderful people".
Konov revealed that there were some "very cool references to Russia" in the original video but it was decided that this was "too complimentary" to the country which "cannot be allowed" in modern times when it has been widely sanctioned in sports and beyond for its military operation in Ukraine.
Speaking to the same outlet, State Duma deputy and former Olympic champion Svetlana Zhurova was hardly surprised by the matter.
"If Tchaikovsky, Pushkin, and Dostoevsky are already canceled, then Zabivaka is even more so," she said.
Zhurova noted that the "simply magnificent" and "successful" Russian World Cup was well-received across football and is regarded as one of the best editions in the history of the competition. Yet now any positive mention of it is now considered "inappropriate".
"People were calling it one of the best World Cups in history. Apparently any positive mentioning of our championship is considered inappropriate now. Mascots bring back good and warm memories.
"Therefore, they are trying to destroy it, to ban it, to remove it. This decision is simply absurd!" Zhurova went on.
Without the participation of Russia, who were eliminated from the qualification playoff semi-finals and final eventually won by Poland when FIFA acted on an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation to ban them from international competitions, Qatar 2022 will kick off on November 18.