"The cat didn't do anything wrong" - Vegan Graeme Souness lays into Kurt Zouma

Graeme Souness
(Image credit: Getty)

Graeme Souness made an impassioned case for animal rights as he said he had "zero sympathy" for Kurt Zouma after the West Ham United defender caused outrage last week by mistreating a cat.

Zouma was fined two weeks' wages by West Ham  after a video, taken by his brother,  emerged on social media of him kicking, slapping and chasing his cat.

Speaking on Sky Sports ahead of West Ham's game at Leicester City, which Zouma was selected for but then missed after falling unwell, Souness said: "I’ve got zero sympathy for him. I've got major problems with it.  

"That cat didn't do anything wrong, it was abused for entertainment, it wasn’t out of anger. They’re laughing. The example he sets for the child, he smashes the cat out of the child's arms. And the biggest problem I have with it is they decided to put it on social media."

Souness, who is a vegan, continued: "The fact they put it out on social media suggests they didn’t think there was anything wrong with the behaviour, they thought people would find this funny and amusing, it’s just wrong on every level what they did."

Zouma apologised for the video on Monday, saying he was "deeply sorry". His two cats were taken away by the RSPCA on Wednesday, while Essex Police said they were also looking into the incident.

West Ham also issued a statement saying they did not condone animal cruelty but manager David Moyes caused further outrage when he selected Zouma to face Watford a day after the video emerged.

"They have PR consultants, the statements mean nothing fines mean nothing in this instance," added Souness, who coached Liverpool and Newcastle along with a host of other top clubs.

And the Scot said he would have dropped Zouma immediately if he were his manager. 

"They’ve mismanaged it from day one. For me, I wouldn’t have played him again this year," he said.

"If I were still a player I wouldn’t want to be in the dressing room with him. I wouldn’t want him around the place until he showed real remorse in whatever way that shows itself."

When did Souness go vegan?

Souness revealed last year when discussing the climate crisis on Sky Sports that he had been following a plant-based diet since 2018.

He said the move was mostly motivated by concerns for animal welfare, adding: "I think the way we treat animals is despicable."

Souness has also spoken out in favour of gay rights

In another display of his more thoughtful side, Souness attended Brighton Pride in 2019 and expressed regret at football's historically problematic attitude towards homosexuality.

"I have been in the game for more than 50 years now. I don’t think in that time we have taken one step forward in the treatment of LGBT people," he told the Brighton Argus. (opens in new tab)

"I go to stadiums most weeks and there is still an idiot at most games who you can hear shouting abuse.

"When you look at the strides the LGBT community has made in the last 20 years it’s enormous, but in football there has been nothing.”

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Richard Martin is an experienced football writer, editor and social media producer. Before returning to London, he spent 10 years in Spain as a football correspondent and has attended over 600 games across 16 countries, his favourite being Argentina. He has also worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Times and AS.