Everyone is riled up about the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, but one bird might have taken its passion for the tournament a little too far.
On Wednesday, the kick-off for the game between Iran and Spain was delayed after an animal football fan got too close to the action. Right before the match started, Spain’s Gerard Piqué put a pause on the preparations so he could pick up a tiny bird he spotted stuck in the middle of the field, reports The Sun.
Piqué, who music fans might recognize as Shakira’s longtime love, carefully clutched the bird until he reached a safe spot, where he let it go.
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Unfortunately, the flyer didn’t get the hint and flew back onto the field. At this point, Piqué’s teammate Francisco “Isco” Alarcón Suárez gave animal rescue work a shot. Isco plucked up the bird and took the animal to the sidelines to be released. The second attempt did the trick: the bird flew off to find a safer perch to watch the game.
Spain went on to win the match against Iran, 1-0. Pique and Isco earned another win as well: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced it is sending two Hero to Animal awards to Russia for the players as a thank you for being big heroes to a little bird.
“PETA U.K. is recognizing these compassionate football players for gently coaxing this little bird out of a dangerous situation and on his or her way to safety,” PETA U.K. Director Elisa Allen said in a statement. “No game is more important than someone’s life, and we hope their heroic actions will encourage everyone to come to the aid of animals in need.”