Local police have launched an investigation into Kurt Zouma after the West Ham defender was pictured attacking his cat.
The 27 year old has apologized for his actions after videos emerged in The Sun newspaper of Zouma kicking the pet and slapping it out of the arms of a child. He has been roundly condemned, including by his own club and animal welfare charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
Surrey Police confirmed earlier today that they were investigating the matter after a complaint was made. The case is now in the process of being passed over to their counterparts in Essex, where the video was filmed, both forces confirmed to CBS Sports.
“We are aware of a video circulating on social media relating to an incident involving a cat which members of our communities may find distressing,” a spokesperson for Essex Police said. “We have recently been made aware that this incident may have taken place in Essex and we are liaising with the RSPCA and urgent enquiries are ongoing.”
West Ham issued a swift and stinging rebuke of Zouma, who was named in the starting XI for Tuesday’s Premier League game against Watford. The club said: “West Ham United unreservedly condemns the actions of our player, Kurt Zouma, in the video that has circulated.
“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 RSPCA have also indicated that it will undertake inquiries of their own and historically they have undertaken private prosecutions against people the organization suspects of animal cruelty. Last month the charity indicated in future investigations it would pass on its findings to the Crown Prosecution Service. In the UK there is no maximum fine for animal cruelty, which can carry a prison sentence of up to five years.
“This is a very upsetting video. It’s never acceptable to kick, hit or slap an animal, for punishment or otherwise,” an RSPCA spokesperson 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.”
Zouma said, “I want to apologize for my actions. There are no excuses for my behavior, which I sincerely regret. 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.”
Kurt Zouma’s brother Yoan admitted he had been the one to record the video in an apology of his own. His club Dagenham and Redbridge, who play in the fifth tier of English football, condemned the players’ actions.