Luis Moreno suspended for kicking owl

Updated: March 2, 2011, 6:01 PM ET
Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia -- The soccer player who kicked an injured owl off the field during a match has been suspended for two matches and fined $560 by Colombian soccer officials.

Officials handed out the sanctions on Wednesday to Luis Moreno, a defender for Colombian club Deportivo Pereira, who jogged over from his position and kicked the owl after the injured bird landed Sunday in a corner of the field. The owl died of shock 30 hours later despite treatment at a local veterinary clinic.

The owl served as the unofficial mascot for Colombian club Atletico Junior, which defeated Pereira 2-1 in the match. Moreno apologized and said he was only trying to get the bird off the field and did not know it was a team mascot.

Soccer officials said Moreno's actions could have incited a violent response from home fans.

"This animal was a symbol for the fans from Barranquilla," Colombian officials said in a statement. "Given that the aggressive act took place in their home stadium and in the clear view of all the fans, this act can be legitimately interpreted as provocative."

Moreno, who lives in the Colombian city of Pereira, has been the target of insults and newspaper editorials condemning his behavior.

"I have received threats," he said Wednesday without offering details.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press