Kurt Zouma’s cats rescued by RSPCA and he’s fined ‘£250,000’ as police probe kicking video

9 February 2022, 14:11 | Updated: 9 February 2022, 18:36

Kurt Zouma, who played for West Ham on Tuesday evening, has had his cats taken off him by the RSPCA.
Kurt Zouma, who played for West Ham on Tuesday evening, has had his cats taken off him by the RSPCA. Picture: Alamy/Twitter

By Sophie Barnett

The RSPCA has seized two cats from defender Kurt Zouma and he has been fined "£250,000" by West Ham after a shocking video emerged of the footballer kicking them at his home in Essex.

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A spokesman for the animal charity said on Wednesday that the two cats are now in RSPCA care, adding its priority "is and has always been the wellbeing of these cats".

“They’ve been taken for a check-up at a vets and then will remain in our care while the investigation continues," a spokesman said.

Zouma has also been fined the "maximum amount possible" for mistreating his pet cat, West Ham have announced.

It has been reported this could be around £250,000 - which is roughly two weeks of the star's wages.

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The West-Ham centre back was seen in a video kicking and slapping his pet, with the caption "it is beginning" written over the footage.

The footage has shocked the nation and has been condemned by football figures and politicians, with fans booing the France international during the Hammers' game against Watford on Tuesday.

The RSPCA's statement added: “We’re grateful to everyone who expressed their concern for these cats. We were dealing with this issue before the video went viral online and are leading the investigation.

"We continue to investigate so we cannot comment further at this time."

Essex Police is investigating the incident alongside the RSPCA and said "urgent enquiries" are ongoing.

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The star's actions have caused Vitality to suspend sponsorship as West Ham's official wellness partner.

In a statement today the brand announced: "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.

"As such, we are suspending our sponsorship of West Ham United with immediate effect. We will now be further engaging with the club to understand what actions they will be taking to address the situation."

Meanwhile, Zouma has been dropped by Adidas.

Animal fanatic Chris Packham has hailed the news, saying: "Zouma’s cats have been taken by RSPCA and are in their care where they will get a full veterinarian inspection and immediate care. And virtual cuddles from all of us! The criminal investigation continues."

Whilst a spokesperson for Heineken UK, West Ham's beer and cider partner added: "We have a long-standing relationship with West Ham United, and like them, we were appalled at the contents of the video.

"Any form of cruelty towards animals is totally unacceptable, and we welcome the actions West Ham are taking."

The 27-year-old is now the target of a bid to see him face legal proceedings over the clip, which could see him face up to four years in jail in France.

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A statement from West Ham said: "West Ham United can confirm that the club is supporting an RSPCA investigation into the actions of Kurt Zouma in the video circulated online this week.

"Kurt and the club are co-operating fully with the investigation and the player has willingly complied with the steps taken in the initial stage of the process, including delivering his family's two cats to the RSPCA for assessment.

"Kurt is extremely remorseful and, like everyone at the club, fully understands the depth of feeling surrounding the incident and the need for action to be taken."

The defender has apologised for the clip, which was posted by The Sun.

The 30 Million Friends Foundation, an animal rights charity, and the Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA), both in France, have taken legal action and asked prosecutors to get involved.

In France, convictions for the mistreatment of animals can result in four years in jail and a fine of around £50,000, the Daily Mail reports.

A spokesman for the 30 Million Friends Foundation said: "We condemn this heinous act, have asked that the player be suspended from the France team, and filed a legal complaint against him."

The French penal code allows for French citizens to be prosecuted for crimes committed while overseas.