Kurt Zouma should get no special treatment in cat case, says supporters’ trust
West Ham United Supporters’ Trust has called for Kurt Zouma to face the same punishment as anyone else would do over the treatment of his pet cat and suggested that he spends time with the RSPCA to “see the consequences of his own actions”.
The Hammers defender has been widely condemned after a video emerged of him dropping, kicking and slapping the animal.
The RSPCA swiftly rebuked the “very upsetting” video after it surfaced online and will be leading the investigation and co-operating with Essex Police.
More than 140,000 people have signed an online petition on Change.org, started by Anti Animal Abuse, calling for Zouma to be prosecuted amid a growing public backlash.
While West Ham said they “unreservedly condemn” the actions of Zouma, who has apologised, the France defender was selected by boss David Moyes in the starting line-up for Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Watford.
WHUST treasurer Kevin Hind, who was at the game, told the PA news agency: “The video which we saw was absolutely horrific. Cruelty to animals is completely unacceptable.
“These footballers, including Zouma, are role models to people, particularly young people. If they are seen to be getting away with this kind of behaviour then it shows impressionable people that they can also get away with the behaviour too.
“I don’t think any of us were impressed with Zouma having been played last night.”
Hind added: “Professional footballers should not be treated like God – if footballers break the law, they should be punished.
If he is actually prosecuted and it is a fine, I would guess it would not really hit him hard in the pocket
“In terms of animal cruelty, if this had occurred in any other field of work, the employee concerned would have been suspended if not summarily dismissed.
“If he is actually prosecuted and it is a fine, I would guess it would not really hit him hard in the pocket.
“We have suggested he should be required to donate at least a week’s salary to the RSPCA or Cats Protection and do community service with them so he can see the consequences of his own actions.”
West Ham’s statement on Zouma said they would be “dealing with the matter internally”, adding “we would like to make it clear that we in no way condone cruelty towards animals”.
National pet charity Blue Cross, though, feel West Ham are not taking the issue seriously enough.
“The level of violence that Kurt Zouma showed towards his cat was truly horrifying,” Blue Cross head of public affairs Becky Thwaites told PA.
“The video had his young child involved also, and that is particularly shocking, not the message that we want to be giving out to young people about the acceptability of animal cruelty.
“Blue Cross would like to see Kurt Zouma prosecuted for this offence, it is clearly a case of animal cruelty.
“We know the police and RSPCA are investigating and we completely support that.”
Conservationist Chris Packham has branded the decision to select Zouma against Watford as an “absolute disgrace”, while former England striker Gary Lineker labelled it a “tone-deaf decision” and London Mayor Sadiq Khan described the matter as “despicable”, calling for the player to be prosecuted.
Thwaites believes the club sent out the wrong message by picking Zouma.
“He is a role model for young football fans up and down the country – and what message did that send last night? It was that football and the result of a game is more important than animal welfare,” she said.
“We urge West Ham to look again at their decision and maybe stop him from playing in future matches. As much as Kurt Zouma has apologised, it is not enough.
“We need to see him face the consequences of his actions and one of those is that it is going to impact the football club he is playing for.
“West Ham need to be taking this more seriously and look at the bigger picture of the impact of this video, with millions of people seeing it and potentially normalising animal cruelty, which in our view is just completely outrageous.
“That cat is going to feel the impact of that attack for the rest of its life.”
Cats Protection’s director of veterinary services Dr Maggie Roberts added: “We are saddened the club did not take the opportunity to send a clear message that cruelty to animals will not be tolerated.
“The decision by Kurt Zouma’s club to continue as though nothing has happened sends an appalling message to fans and the wider public.
“It seems that on this occasion, a decision has been taken to put football before the wellbeing of a sentient being.”
West Ham’s official destination partner Experience Kissimmee has said it “will be evaluating our relationship and sponsorship with the club” after Zouma was selected for Tuesday’s match.
Adidas, who are the defender’s official kit supplier, confirmed the company is investigating the incident internally.
Meanwhile in France, animal rights group the 30 Million Friends Foundation has condemned the “heinous act”, called for Zouma to be suspended from the national team and filed a complaint against him under the republic’s own penal code, which applies to citizens committing offenses outside of the country.
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