When I think of Russia I think of a handful of things. Communism, potential world wars, and a bare-chested Vladimir Putin wrestling bears in Siberian forests.
The Russian bear is a world-wide symbol for the country. The Russian bear has featured in films, articles, propaganda posters for the state. It’s even been used to signify the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and Russia as we know it today.
Hell, the Russian bear even features on the flag of United Russia, the reigning political party in the nation, of which Vladimir Putin is the leader.
With that in mind, and the impending World Cup looming ever closer, it makes sense to imagine that bears will have some role to play during the summer tournament.
However while you might’ve thought bears would be merely paraded around in the opening ceremony or imprinted on the match balls, what they’ll actually be doing is something a lot more terrifying.
It’s really something.
— Mark Bullen (@markgbullen) April 16, 2018
This footage was captured at a Russian Professional Football League (Russia’s third tier) game between Mashuk-KMV and FC Angusht Nazran over the weekend and shows a brown bear, named Tima, being used to deliver the match ball.
While I think we can all agree that sporting mascots need to be replaced by something a little more exciting, this really takes the biscuit.
How the players and officials aren’t all shaking with fear I’ll never know – especially as the referee begins to tug the ball away from the animal’s claws, the beast glaring at the alien object in its hands with absolutely no clue whatsoever as to what’s going on.
On the flip side, training bears for entertainment purposes is thought to be an incredibly cruel and questionable procedure.
Nothing special, just a bear on a football match ⚽️
Tima also will open the World Championship in the Moscow pic.twitter.com/Bw3jkaBsal
— mash (@RussianMash) April 16, 2018
The bear can also be seen throwing its hands up in the air seemingly trying to get the crowd going before kick-off.
Although still unconfirmed, there are reports that a similar procedure will take place before the opening game of the World Cup between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
That’d definitely spice things up.
Interestingly, this isn’t the only time this weekend animals have starred in Russian lower league football.
Russian Lower League football continues to baffle. After a bear was used at Angusht to present the match ball, Luch Energiya fans expressed their discontent with manager Alexandr Grigoryan by throwing a live rooster onto the pitch. pic.twitter.com/8mzrN5YPbT
— David Sansun (@RFN_David) April 16, 2018
According to one guy on Twitter, Luch Energiya fans expressed how annoyed they were at their manager by throwing a live rooster onto the pitch.
Writing on Twitter, David Sansun claimed:
Russian Lower League football continues to baffle. After a bear was used at Angusht to present the match ball, Luch Energiya fans expressed their discontent with manager Alexandr Grigoryan by throwing a live rooster onto the pitch.
There’s never a dull match in Mother Russia.
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Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.