Conservationists have chastised Christian Pulisic for posting a video on Instagram of himself performing football tricks above a goliath grouper fish before falling into the water and landing on top of the endangered sea creature.
As others filmed the stunt, the 22-year-old Chelsea and US men’s international star, who has been spending the off-season in Florida, was sitting on the edge of a boat doing kick-ups above the fish hooked on a line below him.
Pulisic then lost his balance and landed on top of the flailing fish before climbing back onto the boat.
It’s unclear where Pulisic was at the time of the incident, but in the Instagram post, he tagged an account linked to BlacktipH, a Florida-based fishing collective. His video was also retweeted with the caption “Christian Pulisic living on the edge” from BlacktipH’s Twitter account.
On their Instagram page, they also posted a video of Pulisic catching and releasing a shark.
Blue Planet Society, which describes itself as “a self-funded, volunteer pressure group campaigning to end the overexploitation of the world’s ocean,” reposted the video after it went viral.
In response to the video, the group tweeted, “Abusing a threatened goliath grouper for a social media video is a new low.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has designated Atlantic Goliath groupers as a vulnerable species with declining populations. They can grow up to 2.5 meters, or more than eight feet, long and weigh 363 kg, or about 800 pounds (IUCN).
“We originally posted and commented on the video because the goliath grouper is classified as threatened by the IUCN Red List and protected by law in the USA,” Blue Planet Society said in a statement to CNN.
“In our opinion, Christian Pulisic’s stunt was in clear breach of these rules,” they added, citing information from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which states that photographs of the species, or any other activities such as measuring the fish, should not delay release in any way.
“Animal abuse to attract attention for social media videos appears to be on the increase. We believe strongly that people should be called out for it — especially when they are as influential as Mr Pulisic.”
Winner of the Champions League On August 11, Chelsea will face Europa League champion Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup. Chelsea’s first Premier League match is on August 14 against Crystal Palace.