Two-match ban, fine for player who kicked owl

BOGOTA Thu Mar 3, 2011 7:18am IST

BOGOTA (Reuters) - The player who caused outrage by kicking an injured owl during a Colombian championship match was banned for two games and fined on Wednesday.

The Colombian league ruled that Pereira defender Luis Moreno had provoked the crowd by kicking the bird which was regarded as a mascot by the fans of home team Atletico Junior.

"This committee has become aware through the media that Luis Moreno committed an act of cruelty against an animal during the Atletico Junior-Pereira match," said the league's disciplinary commission in a statement.

"The animal was practically a symbol of the local fans and, considering this aggression took place in their stadium in full view of the spectators, the act can clearly be seen as one of provocation."

Moreno was fined 1,070,200 pesos ($560) in addition to his ban following Sunday's incident.

The owl, which lived in the stadium roof, later died in a veterinary clinic, although an official said this might have been caused by excessive man-handling, leading to stress, after the incident.

The incident happened in the 74th minute after the owl was hit by the ball, prompting the referee to stop play.

Moreno, apparently frustrated at the delay with his team losing 2-1, kicked the bird away towards the touchline, although the referee took no action against him.

The incident infuriated home fans and animal rights groups as well as shocking thousands of television viewers.

Moreno, given police protection as he left the field, has apologised and said that he has received telephone threats over the attack.

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