A match in the 27th round of the Russian Professional Football League (PFL) between Pyatigorsk's "Mashuk-KMV" and Nazran's "Angusht" began with the bear, named Tim, solemnly handing the ball to the main referee of the match.
The clip shows a muzzled bear led to the stadium by a handler.
Onlookers can be heard clapping and cheering on the animal, whose mouth had been clamped shut, before he took a ball and handed it to the referee.
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.
"Bears, like most wild animals, are highly unpredictable and people around the world have been mauled or attacked by these animals, underlining that show business is no career for a wild animal".
The freaky footage has been criticised by animal rights charities, with Elisa Allen, director of animal welfare charity Peta, calling it "utterly out of touch".
While unconfirmed, it's reported that the Russian officials responsible were using the third-tier match as a tester to see whether the bear could perform the handover as they are planning to do the same ahead of the opening match at the 2018 World Cup.
"The bear is the symbol of Russian Federation, so we hope the country's people will show some compassion and national pride and stop abusing them".
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