A New York-based animal rights group condemned a Russian soccer club Monday after one team used a bear to pump up the crowd before a match.
The stunt occurred Sunday before a match in Pyatigorsk. Footage from the game showed the bear being led to Mashuk-KMV Pyatigorsk club's stadium clapping at spectators and handling a soccer ball.
The stadium announcer claimed the bear, named Tina, would participate in the World Cup’s opening ceremony in Moscow in June. However, soccer authorities haven’t confirmed that rumor.
World Animal Protection group condemned the stunt, saying that it’s clear from the footage that “cruel training methods have been used” on the bear.
The bear was borrowed from a traveling circus, Mashuk-KMV manager Rustam Dudov told the Sport Express. The circus asked the club about the bear performing before the match.
Dudov said the Russian Football Union approved the performance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.