West Ham Fines Kurt Zouma Over Cat Abuse Video
West Ham United, the English soccer club, said it had fined Kurt Zouma, a defender who also plays for France’s international team, “the maximum amount possible” on Wednesday, after video footage circulated online of him kicking and slapping his cat.
The footage, which was obtained by The Sun, a British newspaper, was originally shared by Zouma’s brother Yoan on Snapchat.
One clip shows Zouma, 27, lifting his cat with two hands and drop-kicking it to the ground as the person recording the video laughs. In a second clip, Mr. Zouma throws an object at the cat, which scrambles to hide under a table. A third clip shows a child raising the cat toward Zouma, who whacks the cat across its face.
West Ham said in a statement that Zouma was “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.”
The Sun reported the fine to be 250,000 pounds, or about $338,000. West Ham said the money would be donated to animal welfare charities.
Zouma apologized in a statement, saying that there were “no excuses for my behavior, which I sincerely regret.”
He added that his two cats “are perfectly fine and healthy” and that his behavior was “an isolated incident that will never happen again.”
Zouma delivered his cats to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which said in a statement on Wednesday that it would lead an investigation.
“We were dealing with this issue before the video went viral online,” the charity said in an emailed statement.
The videos have already had ramifications for West Ham and for Zouma, who lost a major sponsorship deal with Adidas. Stefan Pursche, an Adidas spokesman, said in a statement on Wednesday that Zouma “is no longer an Adidas-contracted athlete.”
Vitality, an insurance company, said in a statement on Wednesday that it was “very distressed” by the videos and, as a result, was immediately suspending its sponsorship of West Ham.
“At Vitality, we condemn animal cruelty and violence of any kind,” the company said.
Another West Ham sponsor, Experience Kissimmee, which promotes tourism in Osceola County, Fla., said on Twitter on Tuesday that it would evaluate its relationship with the club. It added that it was also disappointed to see Zouma in the starting lineup for West Ham’s game against Watford on Tuesday night.
Zouma, who joined West Ham in 2021 from Chelsea, was booed and jeered throughout the match by Watford’s fans, who screamed a rhyming chant that addressed the video.
West Ham won the game 1-0. Before the match, West Ham’s manager, David Moyes, defended his decision to play Zouma. Moyes told reporters that although he was “a big animal lover” and disappointed in Zouma, his job was to “try and win for West Ham and put the best team I could to give me that chance.”