13 February 2022

Kurt Zouma drops out of West Ham line-up at Leicester after feeling unwell

13 February 2022

West Ham defender Kurt Zouma withdrew from the starting line-up for the Premier League game at Leicester on Sunday after falling ill ahead of the match.

Hammers boss David Moyes had included Zouma in his side again, despite the storm of protest surrounding the player following the abuse of his pet cat.

But the France centre-half headed for the tunnel during the warm-up after talking with Moyes and West Ham’s medical staff, with the club announcing Issa Diop had replaced him in the starting XI a short while later.

Moyes revealed after the match that Zouma had been sick overnight but was still “desperate to play”.

But he added: “Once he got out there he didn’t think it was possible. It is a stomach bug – probably from something he has eaten.”

Zouma played the full 90 minutes in Tuesday’s home win against Watford just over 24 hours after a video showing him kicking and slapping his pet cat had circulated on social media, sparking widespread condemnation.

The 27-year-old Frenchman, who has been fined two weeks’ wages by West Ham, is the subject of an on-going joint investigation by the RSPCA and Essex Police.

Kurt Zouma warmed up before dropping out of West Ham’s starting XI for Sunday’s Premier League game at Leicester (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)

Zouma’s brother Yoan, who is understood to have taken the video, has been suspended by his club, Dagenham, until the RSPCA has completed its probe.

The RSPCA has confiscated Zouma’s two cats, while his personal kit supplier, Adidas, have cut ties with the player and Vitality has suspended its sponsorship as West Ham’s official wellness partner.

In a press conference on Friday Moyes pleaded for forgiveness for Zouma and emphasised that message again after Sunday’s game.

“Obviously a player has made a mistake, but there’s plenty of managers who’ve had players who have made mistakes and somewhere along the line you always hope there’s a bit of forgiveness and people are willing to accept he made a mistake,” he said on Sky Sports.

But Graeme Souness was scathing in his criticism of both Zouma and West Ham.

If I was still a player I wouldn't want to be in the dressing room with him

Souness told Sky Sports before the match: “It (the cat) was abused for entertainment. It was wrong on every level.”

He said West Ham had “mismanaged it from day one” and added: “For me I wouldn’t have played him again this year.

“If I was still a player I wouldn’t want to be in the dressing room with him, I would not want him around the place until he has shown real remorse in whatever way that shows itself.

“The statements mean nothing, fines mean nothing in this instance.”

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