December 21, 2007 / 2:48 PM / 12 years ago

Helsinki names football owl "resident of the year"

HELSINKI (Reuters) - An eagle owl which temporarily halted a Euro 2008 qualifier match between Finland and Belgium in front of 35,000 spectators in the summer, was named as Helsinki’s resident of the year by a journalists’ association.

In June the large bird of prey, later nicknamed Bubi, swooped over the football pitch before alighting on a goalpost and forcing the referee to hold up the game for six minutes.

“It was a unanimous decision. Bubi promoted Finnish football much more efficiently than our team’s scoreless draws here and there,” head of the journalists’ association, Pasi Tuohimaa, told Reuters on Friday.

After Finland won the match, the owl was adopted as the national team’s mascot.

Bubi disappeared from the stadium after a rock concert and did not appear at Finland’s subsequent international matches. The team failed to qualify for the championships next year.

However, fans of Bubi were delighted to see the bird fly into the stadium while the award ceremony was being held — its first appearance in months.

Reporting by Agnieszka Flak and Sami Torma, Editing by Matthew Jones

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