ZAGREB, Croatia—A Croatian animal rights group said Wednesday it would file charges against a local footballer who kicked a chicken to death during a semi-professional match over the weekend.
The incident took place on Sunday when a brood of chickens ran onto a pitch in eastern Croatia.
One of the players, Ivan Gazdek from the home team NK Jelengrad, ran after the birds, kicked one with his foot and then chucked it over the fence in a flurry of feathers.
The 23-year-old was red-carded for unsporting behavior.
The NGO Animal Friends also strongly condemned the "shameful act and cowardly behavior of the player against an innocent animal who died with crushed bones and in pain."
The group said it would file charges against the player for the "criminal act of animal killing or torture."
If formally charged and found guilty, the player could face up to 1 year in prison.
Gazdek, who claims to be an animal lover that owns several pets, argued to local media that the killing "was not intentional."
"I ran towards the chickens to chase them away, swung my foot and accidentally killed one," he said.
"Chickens are constantly entering the pitch interrupting the match. The pitch is full of feces, these are unhygienic conditions," he added in comments to the local 24sata paper.