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10 Feb, 2022 14:31

Cat-abusing footballer unfairly punished because he’s black, influencer claims

Sally Suleiman questioned if Kurt Zouma had lost sponsorships due to being black, despite being seen kicking his pet cat
Cat-abusing footballer unfairly punished because he’s black, influencer claims

An internet influencer has suggested that West Ham defender Kurt Zouma lost sponsorship deals and had wages docked by his club due to being black, after being caught physically abusing his cat in a video widely shared online.

France international Zouma was condemned by his employers and UK animal charity the RSPCA – who seized his cats on Wednesday – after a video emerged showing him kicking and slapping a pet feline in the presence of a child.

West Ham fined Zouma two weeks' pay totaling around $330,000 as Adidas also cut ties with the player in response to the scandal.

But an influencer once listed as an 'inspirational woman' by Forbes, Sally Suleiman, attempted to make the issue about race in comments on Twitter.

"No, this doesn’t make sense," Suleiman wrote, in a now-deleted tweet.

"The fine doesn’t make sense. Adidas withdrawing his sponsorship deal makes no sense. Zouma apologized!

"Is it because he is black? This just messed my evening," she added.

In a separate post, also taken down later, Suleiman wrote: "Dear Europeans, no one is saying what Zouma did is right. We understand your laws too. What we are saying is that the £250,000 fine and losing his sponsorship deal with Adidas is just too much for the crime committed. This is happening because he is black."

Elsewhere, when stopped by reporters on his way to training, Jamaica international Michail Antonio questioned whether what West Ham colleague Zouma did was "worse than racism".

"I've got a question for you," Antonio began. "Do you think what he's done is worse than racism?"

"I'm not condoning a thing that he's done. I don't agree with what he has done at all.

"But there's people that have been convicted and been caught for racism, and have played football afterwards. They got an eight-game punishment or something like that, but people are now calling for people to be sacked and to lose their livelihood," Antonio added.

"I've just got to ask this question to everyone out there: is what he's [Zouma] done worse than what the people convicted of racism done?"

Zouma issued an apology after his act came to light and was still picked for West Ham's 1-0 home win over Watford on Tuesday. 

Manager David Moyes defended the decision for the defender to play, saying it was made because Zouma "is one of our better players" as the east Londoners make an unlikely push for Champions League qualification.

Another sponsor – Experience Kissimmee – has cut ties with the Hammers following Vitality's lead, though it remains to be seen if Zouma will make the trip to Leicester City on Sunday.