BOGOTA - A player has caused an uproar and faces severe sanctions for kicking an owl which was lying prostrate on the pitch during a Colombian championship match at the weekend.
Video footage showed that the bird was first struck by the ball near the Pereira penalty area during the match at Atletico Junior, prompting the referee to stop play.
As the referee and players discussed what to do, Pereira defender Luis Moreno - apparently impatient over the delay with his team losing 2-1 - was seen to kick the bird towards the touch-line with his left foot.
"The player should be severely punished for this painful, horrible act of intolerance," Ramon Jesurum, president of the Colombian league (Dimayor), said in a radio interview.
He added the case would go before the Dimayor's disciplinary committee.
Atletico Junior fans chanted "murderer" at the Panamanian player, according to Colombian media. He was also reprimanded by opponents and apologised after the game.
"I apologise to the fans, it wasn't my intention," he said as he left the field escorted by radio reporters and police.
Colombian media said the owl, rescued by ground staff, was taken to a vet where its condition was serious.