A professional soccer player in Colombia faces up to three months in jail for kicking an opposing team's lucky owl, which had been been hit by a ball after landing on the field Sunday. The owl died Tuesday.
The owl was considered a good luck charm for the Atlético Junior squad in Barranquilla and lived in its Metropolitan Stadium.
Luis Moreno, a Panamanian player for Deportivo Pereira, was met with chants of "Murderer! Murderer! Murderer!" after kicking the owl and had to leave the stadium under heavy police guard, according to the Daily Mail in London. (The Daily Mail has video of the owl kick, or you can check it out on YouTube.)
For those too squeamish to watch the footage, which the Daily Mail warns constitutes animal cruelty, a Pereira defender chases a Junior attacker into the penalty box, wins the ball from him and clears it, poorly, hitting the owl that had landed on the field.
The referee stops play, and Moreno trots over and kicks the bird off the field, a distance of about three yards.
The incident was aired on national television and prompted widespread outrage, and not just from Junior fans. Environmental groups urged sanctions against Moreno and called for protests at the National Soccer building in Bogota.
Moreno apologized, saying it was not his intention to harm the bird.
"I did it to see if the owl could fly," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
The owl was taken to Zoosalud veterinary clinic in Barranquilla, the Daily Mail reported. Veterinarians said it was suffering from stress and needed sedation but that X-rays indicated no fractures.
The veterinarians later told Colombia Reports, a news website, that the owl died early Tuesday of respiratory arrest.
A Spanish-language report from Radio Santa Fe in Bogota said that Moreno faces one to three months in prison and a maximum fine of 50,000 pesos, about $26.
Moreno apologized again in a news conference and said he would accept responsibility.
"I apologize to the whole country and more to the fans of Barranquilla because it was a very grave action, and if I receive a penalty, then I'll take it."
If it's just a bird, why kick it?
I kicked it to see if it could fly!!!!!! Are you kidding me? Is this the best this guy could come up with? This guy is a joke and if it was a kid that was on the field he would have said, I kicked it to see if it could walk.
sounds like a new olympic sport!
It's really not that serious folks...it's a bird!
And you're "just" a human; killing anything for no reason is wrong.
What a jerk... seriously, nobody is dumb enough to kick a bird and think you won't hurt it. And if you're trying to scare it off the field or "see if it can fly" (Duh, yes it can. It landed on the field.), you charge at it; you don't kick it.
Isn't more cruel to keep in captivity an owl? Isn't that the fault of the home team that put the bird at risk during the matches domesticating it? Owls shoud be free in their natural anvironment and not kept as a mascot.
True, but that doesn't really justify him kicking it, now does it?
pretty bird, pretty bird
Wasn't a Legend of the Guardians. Poor Bird
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated" –Gandhi
What a piece of garbage. I hope he gets what he deserves and worse.
The mistake was allowing it to be on the field where a dozen 200-pound men were kicking ball around anyway...
3 months? Why is the life of an animal valued so little. 3 years isnt enough.
What a F**** moron. It was not the poor birds fault, so lets boot kick it. He said he was trying to just get it off the field but if you loo at the video it was a deliberate wind up and kicking motion.
Oh, that is the worst thing I have seen in awhile! Just horrible! He should be banned from playing and spend years in prison! To fine him approximately 26 US, is a reflection on his own country! I will Never go there again!
REALLY? That was a kick, not a swipe, and he clearly didn't care if the owl could fly. That poor animal was looking straight up and saw him coming, too. What an @$$. I hope he gets kicked in the 'nads while in jail. Let's see how high HE flies!
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