Animal rights groups have condemned the use of a bear that performed before a Russian soccer match.
The routine happened before a third division match Sunday in the southern city of Pyatigorsk. TV footage from the game showed the animal being led to the Mashuk-KMV Pyatigorsk club’s stadium, clapping at spectators. The bear, named Tima, also held the ball before handing it over to the referee.
The stadium’s announcer claimed that the bear will take part in the World Cup’s opening ceremony in Moscow in June, but soccer authorities haven’t confirmed that. The club’s manager says it was borrowed from a circus.
The New York-based World Animal Protection group condemned the stunt Monday, saying that it’s clear from the footage that “cruel training methods have been used” on the bear.
Rustam Dudov, manager of the Mashuk club which arranged for the bear to perform, told the Sport Express newspaper Monday that the bear was borrowed from a traveling circus which approached the club suggesting that the bear perform before the game. Dudov said the Russian Football Union approved the performance.
Plot to disrupt World Cup thwarted
Russia’s chief prosecutor says law enforcement agencies have thwarted an alleged plot by right-wing soccer fans to derail events at the World Cup.
Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika’s report to the upper house of parliament says the suspected organizers envisaged engaging members of the radical soccer fan group T.O.Y.S. to disrupt World Cup events in the city of Samara on the Volga River.
Chaika’s report released by the Tass news agency on Tuesday didn’t elaborate on the actions the perpetrators planned to take.
The radical nationalist group was outlawed by a Russian court last year on charges of fomenting extremist sentiments.