Footballer Kurt Zouma’s two cats have been seized by the RSCPA while an investigation into viral footage of him kicking one of them is investigated, the animal welfare charity has confirmed.
The West Ham defender apologized after a video emerged of him dropping, kicking and slapping his pet cat at his home in London.
The club has confirmed that Zouma has been fined “the maximum amount possible” for the incident, but still allowed him to play on Tuesday night.
The RSPCA branded the footage “very upsetting” after it surfaced and said it is now leading an investigation into the incident while co-operating with Essex Police.
A statement from the animal charity said: “The two cats are now in RSPCA care. Our priority is and has always been the wellbeing of these cats.
“They’ve been taken for a check-up at a vets and then will remain in our care while the investigation continues.
“We’re grateful to everyone who expressed their concern for these cats. We were dealing with this issue before the video went viral online and are leading the investigation.
“We continue to investigate so we cannot comment further at this time.”
Following the announcement from the RSPCA, West Ham confirmed Zouma had received a fine worth two weeks’ wages, reported to be in the region of £250,000.
The money will be donated to animal welfare charities and, the club said.
A statement said: “West Ham United can confirm that the club is supporting an RSPCA investigation into the actions of Kurt Zouma in the video circulated online this week.
“Kurt and the club are co-operating fully with the investigation and the player has willingly complied with the steps taken in the initial stage of the process, including delivering his family’s two cats to the RSPCA for assessment.
“Kurt is extremely remorseful and, like everyone at the club, fully understands the depth of feeling surrounding the incident and the need for action to be taken.
“Separate to the RSPCA’s investigation and pending further sanction once the outcome of that process is determined, West Ham United can confirm that Kurt Zouma has been fined the maximum amount possible following his actions in the video that circulated.
“The player has immediately accepted the fine, which will be donated to animal welfare charities.
“West Ham United would like to reiterate our condemnation of Kurt’s actions and make it clear that the matter continues to be handled with the utmost seriousness.
“However, we believe it is now important to allow the RSPCA to conduct their investigation in a fair and thorough manner, and will be making no further comment at this stage.”
West Ham was criticized for allowing Zouma to play against Watford in the Premier League on Tuesday night, with former England striker Gary Lineker labeling it as a “tone-deaf decision”.
More than 150,000 people have signed an online petition on Change.org, started by Anti Animal Abuse, calling for Zouma to be prosecuted amid a growing public backlash.
National pet charity Blue Cross said allowing Zouma to play showed that West Ham were not taking the issue seriously enough.
Head of public affairs Becky Thwaites said: “The level of violence that Kurt Zouma showed towards his cat was truly horrifying.
“The video had his young child involved also, and that is particularly shocking, not the message that we want to be giving out to young people about the acceptability of animal cruelty.
“Blue Cross would like to see Kurt Zouma prosecuted for this offence, it is clearly a case of animal cruelty.
“We know the police and RSPCA are investigating and we completely support that.”
West Ham’s official destination partner Experience Kissimmee has said it “will be evaluating our relationship and sponsorship with the club” after the fiasco, while Adidas, who are the defender’s official kit supplier, confirmed the company is investigating the incident internally.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.