The outcry over West Ham defender Kurt Zouma’s mistreatment of his pet cat has continued to grow in the wake of a video showing him dropping, kicking and slapping the animal.
ere, the PA news agency looks at the reaction from the club, their sponsors, fans and animal charities.
The Hammers on Wednesday fined Zouma two weeks’ wages, reported to be in the region of £250,000. They emphasised the matter continued “to be handled with the utmost seriousness” and said the player was “extremely remorseful” and “understood the depth of feeling surrounding the incident”. Both player and club are now cooperating with an RSPCA investigation. The club had condemned his actions and Zouma apologised for them in statements the previous day, but the Frenchman was still named in the starting line-up for their Premier League match against Watford that evening, with boss David Moyes saying his job was “to pick the best team and Kurt was part of that”.
Update on viral footage of cats
We’d like to reassure people that we’re investigating and the cats are safe and in our care. We have been dealing with this since before the clip went viral online and we need to follow the proper legal process and not discuss due to UK GDPR laws. pic.twitter.com/LticInSmpn
— RSPCA (England & Wales) (@RSPCA_official) February 9, 2022
The RSPCA, which is leading the investigation into the incident while co-operating with Essex Police, branded the video “very upsetting” following its emergence online. It has now taken Zouma’s two cats into its care, where they will remain while the investigation continues. National pet charity Blue Cross said the “level of violence” Zouma showed “was truly horrifying” and called for him to face prosecution, while Cats Protection’s director of veterinary services Dr Maggie Roberts said the decision to play him against Watford sent “an appalling message to fans and the wider public”.
Zouma has lost his personal kit deal with adidas, while three of West Ham’s sponsors have made public statements condemning his actions. West Ham’s official destination partner Experience Kissimmee said it would be “evaluating our relationship and sponsorship with the club” in the wake of his selection for Tuesday’s match, while on Wednesday Vitality said it was suspending its sponsorship as their official wellness partner. Heineken UK, West Ham’s beer and cider partner, said it was “appalled at the contents of the video” and welcomed the actions the club were taking.
Zouma was relentlessly booed by Watford supporters during Tuesday’s game and on Wednesday the West Ham United Supporters’ Trust labelled his actions “absolutely horrific”. WHUST treasurer Kevin Hind told the PA news agency: “I don’t think any of us were impressed with Zouma having been played last night. Professional footballers should not be treated like God – if footballers break the law, they should be punished. In terms of animal cruelty, if this had occurred in any other field of work, the employee concerned would have been suspended if not summarily dismissed.”