There’s almost no way to preface this, except to say that if you like watching trained bears do tricks, this is your lucky day. A video posted to Reddit’s r/soccer on Monday shows a trained bear opening up a Russian soccer match.
The video was posted to Youtube on Monday, and an actual bear — not someone in a realistic bear suit — was walked out to the sidelines by a handler. The bear, which was wearing a muzzle of sorts, then sat in front of the crowd and clapped, its enormous claws terrifyingly visible.
The bear then got onto its hind legs and essentially stood up to full height, holding a soccer ball. One of the refs took it (presumably before the bear could flatten it with its giant paws), and then the bear started clapping again. It really liked clapping.
As a symbol, the bear has a complicated history in Russia. During the USSR days, the bear was often used as a symbol for the country, but by Westerners and not by Russia itself. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, there was some support in Parliament for removing the double-headed eagle on Russia’s coat of arms and replacing it with the bear, but that didn’t come to be. The bear has made a bit of a comeback in Russia, though. It’s the symbol of the country’s ruling party, United Russia.
No one seems to know why a trained bear did tricks to kick off a Russian third league soccer match. But according to a translation of the video’s Youtube description, the bear’s name is Tim. I hope Tim got a lot of treats for that stunt.
Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter! Follow @lizroscher
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