Shocking footage has emerged from Russian Federation showing a bear being made to hand over the match ball before a game in the third division.
The clip shows a muzzled bear led to the stadium by a handler.
Standing on its hind legs, the bear can be seen holding onto the ball while standing beside the pitch, moments before kick-off.
It then hands it over to the referee before clapping along with the crowd.
The stunt elicited sharp condemnation from animal welfare groups.
While responding to the incident, the animal welfare group as termed the act as "inhumane and shocking" arguing that the rights of the animal were trampled upon in the process.
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"Bears are wild animals and as such have very specific and complex needs".
She said: "In addition to being inhumane, using a bear as a captive servant to deliver a football is downright unsafe".
'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.
The stadium's announcer said the bear will participate in FIFA World Cup's opening ceremony in Moscow in June. "Common decency should compel the football league to pull this stunt, which flies in the face of the spirit of fair play".
Brian da Cal, country director of charity Four Paws UK, said forcing bears to perform can be stressful for the animals.