Sponsors suspend deals with West Ham, Kurt Zouma as player fined over animal abuse

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West Ham and France defender Kurt Zouma has issued an apology after a video emerged of him kicking and hitting his own cat, and David Moyes has explained why he started the French center back in their 1-0 win against Watford.

It has been announced that Zouma was fined over $338,000 by West Ham and the money will be given to animal welfare charities. His two cats have been taken away by the RSPCA (Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

Companies have since cut sponsorship deals with the club and Kurt Zouma personally over the incident. West Ham sponsor Vitality hit out at the club over how they reacted to the video and suspended their current deal, while adidas have ended their sponsorship of Zouma.

In a video posted online, Zouma, 27, was shown picking up his cat and then kicking it across the room, while he was also shown slapping it in the face. Zouma was also shown chasing the cat around a dinner table and throwing slippers at it as a child watched on and the cameraman laughed.

It is believed that Zouma’s brother, Yoan, filmed the incident and posted it onto his Snapchat account. The video was obtained by The Sun newspaper in the UK, while the Metropolitan Police have announced they will not investigate the incident.

Sponsors drop West Ham, Zouma

Vitality issued the following statement to West Ham, as they say they have ‘suspended’ their sponsorship of the club.

“We were very distressed by the video we have seen of Kurt Zouma. At Vitality, we condemn animal cruelty and violence of any kind. We are hugely disappointed by the judgement subsequently shown by the club in response to this incident and as such, we are suspending our sponsorship of West Ham with immediate effect. We will now be further engaging with the club to understand what actions they will be taking to address the situation.”

It has since been reported that adidas have ended their sponsorship of Kurt Zouma on a personal level.

Hammers release statement, but Moyes starts Zouma

West Ham issued a statement on the incident involving Kurt Zouma: “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.”

However, in West Ham’s first game since the video emerged, David Moyes started the French defender.

Asked by BT Sport before the game about the decision, and whether the video of Kurt Zouma on social media this week influenced his decision to play the defender, here is what Moyes had to say.

“No, because he is one of our better players. But it is certainly ongoing and the club are dealing with it, so that is a separate matter,” Moyes said.

Moyes has his say

Zouma was then booed loudly every time he touched the ball at the London Stadium. Asked by reporters after the game about Zouma playing, this was Moyes’ response.

“Yes, he will [remain available],” Moyes said. “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. My job is to pick the best team and Kurt was part of that.

“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 apologised. 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.”

West Ham defender issues apology

The former Chelsea defender issued the following statement on his actions:

“I want to apologize for my actions. There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret. I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video,” Zouma said. “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 behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again.”

His brother Yoan, who plays for Dagenham and Redbridge in England’s fifth-tier, also issued an apology.

I deeply regret my involvement in the video that has been widely circulated and unreservedly apologize, not only for my actions, but for the upset and distress this will have caused to so many people. I am now taking time to reflect on what I have done but wish to assure everyone that this was an isolated incident and not something that I am proud of.”