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9 Feb, 2022 15:26

Premier League star has cats seized by animal rights group

Champions League winner Kurt Zouma has landed a $339,000 fine and had his two cats seized by an animal cruelty charity
Premier League star has cats seized by animal rights group

Premier League defender Kurt Zouma has been fined around $339,000 by West Ham and had his two cats seized by the British Royal Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) following the emergence of a video that showed the former Chelsea star kicking and slapping one of the animals in his home, according to reports.

Zouma, 27, was heavily criticized when the video, which was shot by his brother Yoan, who plays for a lower league team in England, was published on social media.

Two cats have now been removed from Zouma's home following "urgent enquiries" conducted by Essex Police and the RSPCA.

"The two cats are now in RSPCA care. Our priority is and has always been the wellbeing of these cats," the group said in a Wednesday statement.

"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."

The development comes after an online petition calling for the cats to be removed from Zouma's care reached more than 150,000 signatures.

West Ham are said to have put the fine towards animal welfare initiatives, although the club has come under fire for selecting the Champions League winner with Chelsea for their Premier League victory at home to Watford on Tuesday evening – with animal charity Blue Cross claiming the club's decision to do so "normalizes his abhorrent behavior."

The incident has even drawn scorn from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who told Sky News: "It's despicable.

I think a number of things need to happen urgently. I think the RSPCA and the police need to work together to prosecute this player.

"I'm disappointed in [manager] David Moyes and West Ham. I know how important three points are but I think they should have shown leadership and dropped him last night."

Moyes defender his decision to select Zouma – who was booed by both sets of supporters – by saying that his job is to pick the best team possible and any matters of discipline are up to the club's hierarchy.

"My job is to pick the best team and Kurt was part of that," Moyes told Sky Sports after his side's 1-0 win.

"Yes, he will [remain available]. The club will sort the rest of it out. I'll look after the football side.

"I'm really disappointed and the club have taken all the action they can do at the moment behind the scenes.

"I'm a big animal lover and it's something that will have affected a lot of people.

"I was completely disappointed with what I saw and what I was told but my job was to try and find a way to get a win for West Ham. Some people will be disappointed and I understand that.

"I'm someone who cares a lot about my dogs and my horses. The club are dealing with it, as you well know.

"I've already spoken to him and we'll move on as much as we can. We understand it's not something everybody is pleased about. It's a really poor situation.

"Was it the wrong call? My feeling was Kurt's apologized. I understand lots of people won't just accept that. But I had to do my job then, and that was to pick the best team I could.

"He's obviously really disappointed and we've all felt it through the team and through the club. We are all of the same feeling it was completely out of order from Kurt and we didn't expect that.

"I always felt I had to try and separate them and let the club do their side and I'll do my side which is the football side. I think you are talking to one of the most disciplinarian managers there is.

"It's something which we are all really disappointed with and the club are dealing with it. Kurt is in our first XI so my decision was to play him."

Zouma even caught the attention of former UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz, who addressed the Frenchman directly on Twitter.

"If you are so tough, mother****er, Kurt Zouma, try to kick me," wrote the Pole. "What a piece of sh*t. No tolerance for animal cruelty."