West Ham’s Zouma starts after condemnation for kicking cat

Feb 7, 2022, 1:18 PM | Updated: Feb 8, 2022, 12:06 pm
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo, right, and West Ham's Kurt Zouma vie for the ball during the...

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo, right, and West Ham's Kurt Zouma vie for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and West Ham at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

(AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

LONDON (AP) — Kurt Zouma started a Premier League game for West Ham on Tuesday, hours after apologizing for kicking and slapping a cat in abuse caught on video.

Zouma is seen hitting the cat while laughter can be heard in the background. In video released by The Sun newspaper, the 27-year-old France international then chases the animal before throwing a pair of shoes at it and slapping its head.

West Ham condemned the defender’s actions and said it will deal with the player internally — though manager David Moyes still opted to select Zouma in the team for home match against Watford on Tuesday night.

He received jeers from some people in the crowd on his early touches of the ball at the Olympic Stadium.

Asked whether the video involving Zouma had influenced the team selection, Moyes said: “No, because he is one of our better players.

“But it is certainly ongoing and the club are dealing with it, so that is a separate matter.”

Zouma said in a statement there were “no excuses for my behavior, which I sincerely regret.”

“I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video,” he said. “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 joined West Ham from Chelsea in August.

“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.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was horrified.

“This is a very upsetting video,” the RSPCA said. “It’s never acceptable to kick, hit or slap an animal, for punishment or otherwise.”

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West Ham’s Zouma starts after condemnation for kicking cat