June 6, 2005

‘Pig-Ball’ Soccer Match Staged in Russia

MOSCOW (AP) -- In this game, everyone stinks and hogging the ball is to be expected. Ten squealing, wriggling piglets pushed (and licked) a soccer ball around a small caged pen Sunday in what organizers said was Russia's first-ever "pig-ball" championships.

The event, staged as part of an agricultural exhibition on Moscow's outskirts, is set up like soccer, with two teams of five piglets. Instead of goals, the teams try to move the ball into painted, half-circles located at the pen's corners. To move things along, the ball is slathered in mashed carrots.

Whether there's any athletic skill involved - aside from aggressive licking - is an open question.

"Why pigs?" said Nariner Bagmanyan, one of the event's organizers. "It's more interesting and you know, this kind of thing doesn't happen anywhere."

Cheered on by dozens spectators, the winning piglets got a trophy for their efforts - and a trough of mashed carrots.

Organizers, along with the newly formed Federation of Sport Pig Breeding, said next year they planned to recruit pig-ball teams from around Russia.