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 apologized after the disturbing video surfaced online, with West Ham also condemning the actions of their player and vowing 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.”
After the clip emerged, West Ham criticized Zouma’s actions.
“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, apologizing for his actions and expressing his regret.
“I want to apologize 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 behavior was an isolated incident that will not happen again.”
Zouma’s representatives have been contacted for further comment by the PA news agency.
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 behavior is not acceptable.
“I haven’t seen the video but I read he has apologized, which is hopefully a sign from him that this type of behavior 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 offense 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.”