Soccer player assaults Barranquilla team’s mascot owl

A Panamanian soccer player dealt a hard kick to the Junior Barranquilla soccer team’s pet owl which landed on the field of Barranquilla’s Metropolitano stadium during the fourth game of the Liga Postobon.

The owl, which serves as a good luck charm for the Junior Barranquilla team, was hit by the soccer ball during Sunday’s game in which Barranquilla defeated the Pereira team 2-1. The bird landed on the field, and referees stopped the game for the bird to be removed, when Panamanian Luis Moreno of the Pereira team brutally kicked the animal, sending it flying about three meters.

The assault against the beloved animal was met with an eruption of boos from the fans filling the stadium who began to chant “Murderer! Murderer! Murderer!,” according to newspaper El Heraldo.

“I apologize to the fans, it wasn’t my intention, I did it to see if the owl could fly,” said Moreno after the game, which he left amid a heavy police guard. The Pereira player explained he did it to rid the field of the bird as quickly as possible.

“I was so angry he hit the little animal, especially after it had already been hit by the ball. I told him a bunch of rude things, a really felt enraged,” said Junior striker Luis Paez.

The violent blow to the owl has aroused anger not only in the Junior team and fans but in animal advocates as well. According to RCN Radio, the president of the Animal and Environmental Network, Marcela Ramirez, has invited Colombians to protest in front of the Nacional Soccer building in Bogota Monday to demand real sanctions against the soccer player who injured the bird. Currently Colombia has no penalties in place for aggression against animals.

The owl is currently recovering at the in the Zoosalud veterinary clinic in Barranquilla.

“The owl is in a cardboard box that serves as a bed. It will be supplied medications, but especially sedatives to avoid stress,” said veterinarian Camilo Tapias. The veterinarian explained that the bird shows signs of suffering from traumatic stress, but no fractures.

“This morning it will undergo x-rays to confirm there are no consequences for the bird. After that, it will be tested to see if it can fly,” said Tapias.

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