The RSPCA has condemned the “very upsetting” video of West Ham defender Kurt Zouma kicking and slapping a cat – and reaffirmed a commitment to investigate any complaints about animal welfare.
Zouma has apologised after the disturbing video surfaced online, while Essex Police have confirmed they are liaising with the RSPCA as part of their “urgent enquiries”.
West Ham have also condemned the actions of their player and have vowed to deal with the matter internally.
In the video, Zouma is seen kicking and slapping the cat, while laughter can be heard in the background. The 27-year-old France international then chases the animal before throwing a pair of shoes at it and slapping its head.
“This is a very upsetting video. It’s never acceptable to kick, hit or slap an animal, for punishment or otherwise,” a spokesperson for animal welfare charity the RSPCA said.
“We are so grateful to people who report suspected animal suffering to us and we would like to reassure people we will always look into and, if necessary, investigate any complaints made to us about animal welfare.”
A statement from Essex Police read: “We are aware of a video circulating on social media relating to an incident involving a cat, which members of our communities may find distressing.
“We have recently been made aware that this incident may have taken place in Essex and we are liaising with the RSPCA. Urgent enquiries are ongoing.”
After the clip emerged, West Ham criticised Zouma’s actions.
Kurt Zouma apologised for his actions (Martin Rickett/PA)“West Ham United unreservedly condemns the actions of our player, Kurt Zouma, in the video that has circulated,” the club said in a statement.
“We have spoken to Kurt and will be dealing with the matter internally, but we would like to make it clear that we in no way condone cruelty towards animals.”
Zouma, who joined the Hammers from Chelsea in August 2021, has also released a statement, apologising for his actions and expressing his regret.
“I want to apologise for my actions. There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret,” Zouma said.
“I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video. I would like to assure everyone that our two cats are perfectly fine and healthy.
“They are loved and cherished by our entire family, and this behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again.”
Zouma’s representatives have been contacted for further comment by the PA news agency.
Zouma’s brother, Dagenham & Redbridge defender Yoan, has been condemned by his club for filming the video and for “his reactions to the events shown”.
A Dagenham statement read: “Since first becoming aware of the incident this morning the club has had discussions with Yoan and we will now take some time to consider our response, which we will of course make public in due course.
“However, in the meantime we would like to make it completely clear that we in no way condone any form of cruelty towards animals and take this matter very seriously.”
Yoan Zouma said he “deeply regretted” his actions in his own statement on the club’s official website.
“I deeply regret my involvement in the video that has been widely circulated and unreservedly apologise, not only for my actions, but for the upset and distress this will have caused to so many people,” he said.
“I am now taking time to reflect on what I have done but wish to assure everyone that this was an isolated incident and not something that I am proud of.”
Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Maheta Molango, speaking about the matter at a parliamentary select committee hearing on Tuesday, said: “It is not for us to discipline him – it is for the employer to discipline – but our role is to tell the player this type of behaviour is not acceptable.
𝗖𝗹𝘂𝗯 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁: 𝗬𝗼𝗮𝗻 𝗭𝗼𝘂𝗺𝗮— Dagenham & Redbridge (@Dag_RedFC) February 8, 2022
“I haven’t seen the video but I read he has apologised, which is hopefully a sign from him that this type of behaviour is not acceptable.”
Dr Maggie Roberts, Director of Veterinary Services at Cats Protection, issued a statement which read: “Causing any animal unnecessary suffering is a criminal offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Any person seen or suspected of treating an animal badly, whether this is physical violence, neglect or any other form of cruelty should be reported to the RSPCA.
“The police work closely with the RSPCA to investigate cases of animal cruelty.
“Kicking, hitting and slapping cats or any other animal is not only illegal but will cause serious bodily harm. This cat may have been subjected to broken bones or other injuries through being mistreated in this way.
“We noticed that some people viewing the video online thought it was funny. We can assure them that this is not a laughing matter.”
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