Soccer game

Watch: A trained bear used in a soccer match ceremony in Russia

April 17 (UPI) — A trained bear helped start a soccer match in Russia when he was handed a ball to pass to an official.

A waterfall video During a Russian Professional Football League third-tier football match in Pyatigorsk on Saturday, the muzzled bear is led away in front of a crowd.

The bear stands on its hind legs and receives a soccer ball from its owner. The animal then passes the ball to a waiting referee.

The bear was then escorted off the field by its handler.

The team that staged the bear stunt claimed the animal would perform a similar service at the 2018 World Cup, but FIFA officials said no such plans had been made. made.

The stunt drew strong condemnation from animal welfare groups.

“In addition to being inhumane and totally out of touch, using a bear as a captive servant to deliver a soccer ball is downright dangerous,” Elisa Allen, director of animal rights group PETA, told the BBC.

Brian da Cal, national director of the charity Four Paws UK, said forcing bears to play can be stressful for the animals.

“Bears are wild animals and therefore have very specific and complex needs,” he said. “Being chained up, muzzled and forced to perform unnatural acts in front of large, noisy crowds causes enormous stress and can have an incalculable impact on these animals, both psychological and physical.”