Kurt Zouma’s cats are being cared for by animal charity RSPCA after a video emerged showing the Frenchman kicking a pet on the ground, with Vitality suspending his sponsorship of his club West Ham United while Adidas dropped the defender.
The viral video https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/west-ham-condemn-zouma-kicking-his-cat-2022-02-08, filmed by Zouma’s brother, Yoan, and posted on social networks, showed the West Ham defender drops the tabby cat and knocks him to the ground. He is also seen slapping the animal and throwing a shoe at it, before chasing it around his property. “Both cats are now in the care of the RSPCA. Our priority is and always has been the welfare of these cats,” an RSPCA spokesperson told Reuters.
“They have been taken for a vet check and will then remain in our care while the investigation continues.” West Ham said Zouma had been fined “the maximum possible amount”, with UK media reporting the fine was two weeks’ wages. The 27-year-old accepted the fine, which will be donated to animal welfare charities.
“West Ham United can confirm that the Club supports an RSPCA investigation into the actions of Kurt Zouma in the video released online this week,” the London club said. But West Ham sponsor Vitality said it was suspending its sponsorship of the club with “immediate effect”.
“We are extremely disappointed with the judgment the club subsequently demonstrated in response to this incident,” Vitality said. “As such, we are suspending our sponsorship of West Ham United with immediate effect. We will now engage further with the club to understand what steps they will take to remedy the situation.”
Adidas said in a statement: “We have concluded our investigation and can confirm that Kurt Zouma is no longer a contracted athlete with Adidas.” An online petition to sue Zouma and have his animal rehomed had been signed by 165,000 people.
Another West Ham sponsor, Experience Kissimmee, said he was considering his position with the club after Zouma was selected for Tuesday’s win over Watford. The Florida-based tourism organization said it was “disheartened” that Zouma played in the Premier League game despite widespread condemnation of his actions.
In a Twitter post, Experience Kissimmee said: “It was disheartening to learn player Kurt Zouma was part of the West Ham United starting line-up.” Pending further information from WHU, we will assess our relationship and sponsorship. with the club.”
West Ham manager David Moyes, although disappointed with his player and describing himself as an animal lover, justified the decision to include Zouma. “My job was to try to win for West Ham and build the best team to achieve that,” Moyes said.
Zouma and his brother Yoan both issued apologies on Tuesday. Essex Police said they were investigating the incident.
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