Premier League star apologizes after physically abusing cat in video
Premier League team West Ham say they "unreservedly condemn" a video which emerged online showing their French international defender Kurt Zouma kicking and slapping his pet cat.
The brief clip, which was shared by UK newspaper The Sun, shows the ex-Chelsea player, 27, kicking a cat across the floor and also slapping it.
A child can also be seen witnessing the distressing incident.
The Frenchman, who moved to West Ham from Chelsea in a big money deal this past summer, has issued an apology for his actions in the video – while West Ham say that they will deal with the matter internally.
The Metropolitan Police have indicated that they will not be launching an investigation into the incident.
“I want to apologize for my actions. There are no excuses for my behavior, which I sincerely regret,” Zouma said in a statement shortly after the clip went viral online.
“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.”
Additional footage, which was reportedly filmed by Zouma's brother Yoan, shows Zouma throwing shoes at the cat and chasing the frightened animal across a room.
“West Ham United unreservedly condemns the actions of Kurt Zouma in the video that has circulated,” the Premier League 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 video clip also drew the attention of anima rights groups, with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) condemning Zouma's actions in a strongly-worded statement of their own.
“This is a very upsetting video. It's never acceptable to kick, hit or slap an animal, for punishment or otherwise,” they 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.”
Fans of West Ham were equally outraged online.
“Sorry, he got caught more than once abusing an animal he doesn't have to have. Many more times I'd bet my life on it. Terminate that contract!” said one.
Another wrote: “He should never be allowed to be near or own an animal for the rest of his life. Can't someone take the cats away from him?
“I’m a West Ham supporter and find this appalling. West Ham supporters would be piling in on another teams player demanding all sorts of retribution (me one of them). In this instance he needs to make a massive donation to RSPCA and Police should investigate,” said another.