I was going to put this in my ‘idiot footballer’ series but using the word ‘Idiot’ to describe Luis Moreno would do justice to him. He is far, far worse than a mere idiot.
Moreno is a Panamanian defender playing for Colombian side Deportivo Pereira. They were playing away at Atletico Junior, a team from Barranquilla when this appalling incident took place. Atletico’s mascot, an owl that lived in the rafters of the stadium, landed on the pitch and was accidently hit by the ball.
The bird was lying on the pitch hurt and he game stopped. While the referee and other players were deliberating what to do, Moreno, eager to get the game going with his team losing 2-1 at the time, decided to take matters into his own hands. He could’ve picked the owl up and handed it to a club official or a steward. Instead he decided the best thing to do was to run 10 yards and boot the defenceless owl off the pitch. The owl was rescued by ground staff and later taken to a vet’s and treated for a broken leg. Sadly it died later that night of shock (though it can’t be proved Moreno’s actions were the cause of that shock).
Atletico Junior fans and players were outraged by Moreno’s actions. “It made me very angry that he kicked the little animal,” said Atletico Junior player Luia Paez, who scored a goal during Atletico’s 2-1 victory. “It was already injured by being struck by the ball. I said a bunch of awful things to him. I was really angry”. The fans started a chant of ‘Murderer, Murderer’ toward Moreno.
Moreno has apologised for the incident saying that he was unaware the owl was a club mascot (like that makes any difference). “I want to apologize to the fans,” he said after the game. “I was not trying to hurt the owl. I did it to see if it would fly.”
Trying to see if it could fly? That’s like paramedics finding someone who’s collapsed and trying to see if they could stand up throwing them up on their feet and letting go. That’s not an acceptable excuse.
Hopefully next time Moreno is injured, someone will try and find out if he can continue by kicking him in the head extremely hard.
Moreno has received a fine from his club and faces sanctions from the Colombian League (Dimayor). Dimayor president Ramon Jeserum said “The player should be severely punished for this painful, horrible act of intolerance" and said the case would go before the Dimayor disciplinary committee.
If Moreno had committed this act in the UK he’d be looking at jail time (as I’m sure is the case in most world countries). Unfortunately Colombia doesn’t have any Animal Cruelty Laws so Moreno will not face any legal punishment for his act.