The Russian Football League came under heavy fire following a video of a muzzled grizzly bear that went viral. The video featured the bear performing tricks to please the crowd before the start of a match. The bear, known as Tim, can be seen clapping and then presenting the referee with the football. The video even showed the bear standing on its hind legs while clapping.
The incident occurred before the match between Mashuk-MKV and Angusht. As the video picked up steam on the internet, it gained widespread condemnation from various animal rights groups and fans. Elisa Allen, the director of animal welfare charity Peta, called the incident "inhumane and utterly out of touch".
Elisa also said that besides being inhumane, using a captive bear to hand over the football to someone is dangerous. "The bear is the symbol of Russia, so we hope the country's people will show some compassion and national pride and stop abusing them. Common decency should compel the league to pull this stunt," she told British media outlets.
Several fans on social media too were enraged by the stunt and voiced their opinions on Twitter. With Russia hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2018, the incident left many in shock. Similar to what their British counterparts are doing, the Russian Premier League will be launching an animal logo to please their fans: a red-eyed bear.