Premier League star pleads guilty to animal abuse after viral video
West Ham's French international defender Kurt Zouma has admitted two offences related to the UK's Animal Welfare Act after footage was leaked online earlier this year showing the 27-year-old hitting and kicking his pet cat.
Footage of the incident which was filmed by Zouma's younger brother Yoan went viral online. Yoan, 24, also admitted one offence related to the video clip after an investigation by the Royal Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
The Thames Magistrates' Court in east London heard that the shocking footage was filmed by Yoan Zouma and posted to the social networking app Snapchat on February 6.
One of Yoan's followers on the platform observed the footage and notified authorities.
The disturbing footage showed Kurt Zouma kicking the Bengal cat across his kitchen. He later threw a pair of shoes at the defenseless animal and hit its head.
Prosecutor Hazel Stevens said during the hearing that Zouma can be heard exclaiming: “I swear I'll kill it, I swear I'll kill it.”
She added the clip was filmed after the brothers determined that the cat had damaged a chair in the home, telling the court: “Kurt Zouma is determined to chastise or carry out some sort of retribution for the damage caused.”
Stevens continued, saying that since the clip was filmed there has been several similar videos posted online of animal abuse apparently inspired by the Zouma brothers.
“Since this footage was put in public domain there has been a spate of people hitting cats and posting it on various social media sites,” she said
“Their behavior falls short of what is expected of a high-profile image.”
Zouma subsequently admitted to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal. Two cats belonging to him have since been re-homed.
West Ham fined Zouma in the aftermath of the incident but were heavily criticized in the media for continued to select the player for upcoming Premier League games.
“It's never acceptable to treat an animal in this way and we were shocked when the video was first brought to our attention,” said RSPCA chief inspectorate officer Dermot Murphy.
“What makes this case even more sad is the way the video was filmed and shared, making light of such cruelty. We hope this case will serve as a reminder that all animals deserve to be treated with kindness, compassion and respect, and that we will not tolerate cruelty.”