Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Soccer player to be punished for kicking owl

Luis Moreno, front, of Panama's Tauro fights for the ball with Randy Diamond of Honduras Marathon during their CONCACAF Champions League soccer match in San Pedro Sula in August 2010. ((Reuters))  

Soccer player to be punished for kicking owl

Panama defender Luis Moreno is facing sanctions after he kicked an injured owl that had landed on the field during a match between his Colombian club Deportivo Pereira and Atletico Junior.

The owl, which serves as a mascot for the Atletico Junior team and lives in the Bogota stadium, was being treated Monday at a local veterinary clinic in Barranquilla. The bird was expected to recover and had only a minor fracture to its right leg.

Fans of the Atletico Junior team shouted "murderer, murderer," after the incident on Sunday.

The owl had landed injured near the corner of the field and was struck by a pass between Deportivo players, causing the referee to halt the game. Moreno then walked over and kicked it a few metres to get the owl off the pitch.

He said he did not know the bird was a good-luck charm for the opposition.

"I want to apologize to the fans," Moreno told reporters after the match. "I was not trying to hurt the owl. I did it [kicked] to see if it would fly."

Pereira club president Francisco Javier Lopez said the player would be punished and he could also face sanctions from Colombian football's governing body.

"It made me very angry that he kicked the little animal," said Atletico Junior player Luia Paez, who scored one of the goals in Atletico's 2-1 victory.

"It was already injured by being struck by the ball. I said a bunch of awful things to him [Moreno]. I was really angry."

Animal welfare officials said no laws in Colombia exist against cruelty to animals.