Kazakh KHL club slaughters live sheep on ice before practice

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KHL squad Barys Astana has some unconventional ideas on how to break a slump. (Getty Images)
KHL squad Barys Astana has some unconventional ideas on how to break a slump. (Getty Images)

From switching up stick companies, to trying new hotels and pre-game restaurants, to the classic playing hungover trick — there’ve been many  tried and tested methods for teams trying to bust out of a slump over the years.

So what do you do when your club is mired in a five-game losing streak sitting outside of a KHL playoff spot with the season winding down? Well, slit a sheep’s throat and watch it bleed out on the ice, of course.


Russian outlet Sport-Express reported Tuesday that Kazakhstan-based KHL club Barys Astana brought a sheep to centre ice, killed it, and sprinkled its blood all over the ice and nets. Several players apparently got sick, but it is unclear whether the illnesses were caused by something physical or just the emotional distress and shock from seeing some dude with a machete dice up a live animal right before they were about to hop on the ice for few skating drills.

This strange ritual reared its head with former Kazakh soccer club Shakhter Karagandy, who received a stern warning from UEFA after the club slaughtered a sheep at the Astana Arena the day before a Champions League playoff match win over Celtic. The moved sparked outrage from animal rights group PETA, who urged the president off the association to discipline Shakhter. A threatening letter was sent to the club, which read, in part:

“Although certain practices may be culturally rooted, they have no place in or around a sporting arena or event … In this context, I would like to make you aware that animal slaughter on a football pitch or in a stadium before, during or after a UEFA competition match – or with reference to a UEFA competition – is totally improper, and will not be tolerated.”

As of Tuesday evening, there was no public statement from the KHL or club on this most recent incident.

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