The manager of a Kazakh football club has refused to rule out sacrificing a sheep ahead of a game against Celtic in Glasgow.
Shakhter Karagandy boss Viktor Kumykov said the ritual may go ahead before the team’s Champions League play-off second leg tie at Celtic Park on Wednesday.
At a pre-match press conference Mr Kumykov said that it would not be too difficult to find a suitable animal in Scotland.
The club provoked outrage from animal rights campaigners when they killed a sheep at the Astana Arena in Kazakhstan the day before last week’s 2-0 win over the Hoops in the first leg.
Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Kumykov said: “All I can say is that every team and every club has its own pre-match traditions and rituals.
“Celtic must have their own. We will try to respect our traditions and those traditions have been in place even before we came to the club.”
Asked if the ritual would take place, he replied: “Possibly, yes.”
When asked where he planned to get the sheep, he replied: “As far as we know in Scotland the agriculture is very developed so it shouldn’t be an issue to find a sheep.”
The Shakhter manager played down the effects the pre-match ritual had had on the first game in Kazakhstan.
He said: “Of course this tradition may have a certain psychological impact on players that can help them to relax before the game.
“But obviously, what really matters is on the football pitch, the game and the final score and you know we scored twice in the first leg and Celtic failed to score, that’s what really matters.”
Animal protection charity OneKind said it was disgusted.
Chief executive John Brady said: “The arrogance of the Kazakhstan side is really quite staggering if they think they can continue with their bizarre and unnecessary rituals while in a country known to be a nation of animal lovers.
“Surely it’s not too much to ask for the visiting side to be respectful of people’s views and feelings, not to mention strict laws on animal slaughter, while they are playing on our soil.”
Scotland for Animals pledged to push for the arrest and prosecution of the club’s officials if the sacrifice goes ahead.
Spokesman John Patrick said: “We appeal to Celtic and its fans to speak out against these animal sacrifices. It’s an affront to the game.”