A shocking video has emerged showing French former goalkeeper, Pascal Olmeta, as part of a hunting trip that kills an elephant by shooting it in the head before laughing and congratulating each other.
The former Marseille and Lyon footballer advertised photos of the trip on his children’s charity website ans said took part in the hunt because they are over-populated.
The four-minute clip shows the footballer and a guide both armed with rifles tracking an elephant before shooting.
With the animal crying in pain on the ground in Zimbabwe, the fatal bullet is shot straight through the elephant’s head, and the pair laugh, congratulate and pose for pictures with its carcass.
A second bullet is fired straight through its head and after the guide pokes it twice with the end of his rifle to make sure it is dead, the pair embrace in celebration
Olmeta, 55, who played for both Lyon and Marseille in the 1990s, is congratulated by the guide from Christophe Morio Safaris, who says: ‘Pascal is the best. Well done,’ as the pair embrace.
The video shows the elegant animals in the wild with a serene backing track.
But after two minutes and 40 seconds of footage, it takes a sinister turn and the music stops as the men hunt the elephant.
After the first bullet is fired, the soundtrack becomes the heartbreaking wailing of the animal as it fights for its life.
A second bullet is fired straight through its head and after the guide pokes it twice with the end of his rifle to make sure it is dead, the pair embrace in celebration.
The video was from a trip to Africa in 2011 and photos of his travels are advertised on the website of his children’s charity A Smile, A Hope For Life.
Among other projects, the website states that he wishes to build a house for disabled children to come on holiday on his native island of Corsica.
The goalkeeper played down the video, saying he only shot the animal because of overpopulation in Zimbabwe
Masha Kalinina, International Trade Policy Specialist with animal charity Humane Society International, said: “As the world faces an elephant poaching crisis, with around 100 elephants poached every day, it is absolutely sickening to see anyone celebrating taking even one innocent life of this magnificent species.
‘And for what? All in the name of fun?
‘This hunt took place in Zimbabwe, a country notorious for corruption where none of the money Olmeta spent on this hunt is likely to have made it to conservation efforts, but instead will have likely lined the pockets of corrupt officials.
‘As a sportsman, Olmeta has let himself down because there was nothing sportsmanlike about subjecting this wild elephant to a frightening and agonizing death.
‘The animal’s cries of pain contrasted with Olmeta’s disgusting joy at having killed him, are truly shocking.
‘Our society no longer finds this unethical behaviour acceptable and the negative reaction this callous killing is receiving is proof of that.’
In a statement released in reaction to the video resurfacing, he said: ‘Elephants cause irreparable damage to the houses.
‘They are also the cause of many deaths among the local populations.’
Olmeta is said to be friends with Eric Cantona and even played for the Rest of the World in two Manchester United testimonials.
The first for the Munich air disaster in 1998 and then Sir Alex Ferguson’s testimonial the following year.
In 2010, he played in goal for United in a charity game for Sport Relief.
PASCAL OLMETA STATEMENT IN FULL
‘In 2011, Pascal Olmeta went to Zimbabwe to attend an annual elephant hunting that is not only legal, but which aims to reduce the risks caused by the overpopulation of elephants in the area.
‘The problem of overpopulation of elephants in Zimbabwe is a real issue for the country.
‘Elephants cause irreparable damage to the houses.
‘They are also the cause of many deaths among the local populations.
‘In total, more than 17,000 elephants are present on the Zimbabwean territory, a far too many for the available area home.
‘For this reason, Zimbabwe organises each year a legal and regulated hunting in order to meet the need for regulation of the species.
‘The affected animals are selected in advance by the authorities.
‘And only the older animals and causing more damage to local populations are hunted.
‘The sole purpose of hunting Pascal Olmeta which participated in 2011, and held in the Tuli region in an area of 40,000 hectares on the border of Zimbabwe and Botswana, was to participate in the sustainability of the species, maintaining a necessary balance between the sexes and age groups.
‘The organizing National Park had authorized the hunting of this animal, which threatened villages and inhabitants nearby.
‘The tusks were delivered to the National Park and the meat was distributed to villagers.
‘Furthermore, Zimbabwe is committed to the responsible use of natural resources.
‘This means that all income from hunting are used to help improve the living conditions of local people living with wildlife or near protected areas, and to support conservation programs.
‘Pascal Olmeta said he has committed for many years in philanthropic causes.
‘He also created his own charity A Smile, A Hope For Life.’