West Ham United, the English soccer club, said it had fined Kurt Zouma, a defender who also plays for the France international team, ‘to the maximum possible’ on Wednesday after footage emerged online video of him kicking and slapping his cat.
The footage, which was obtained by The Sun, a British newspaper, was originally shared by Zouma’s brother, Yoan, on Snapchat.
A clip shows Zouma, 27, lifting her cat with both hands and throwing it to the ground while the person recording the video laughs. In a second clip, Mr. Zouma throws an object at the cat, which scrambles to hide under a table. A third clip shows a child raising the cat to Zouma, who punches the cat in its face.
West Ham said in a statement that Zouma was “extremely remorseful and, like everyone at the club, fully understands the depth of feelings surrounding the incident and the need for action”.
The Sun reported the fine was 250,000 pounds, or about $338,000. West Ham said the money would be donated to animal welfare charities.
Zouma apologized in a statement, saying there was “no excuse for my behavior, which I sincerely regret.”
He added that his two cats are “perfectly fine and healthy” and that his behavior was “an isolated incident that will never happen again”.
Zouma has delivered her cats to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which said in a statement on Wednesday that it would investigate.
“We were dealing with this issue before the video went viral online,” the charity said in an emailed statement.
The videos have already had ramifications for West Ham and for Zouma, who lost a major sponsorship deal with Adidas. Stefan Pursche, a spokesperson for Adidas, said in a statement Wednesday that Zouma “is no longer a contracted athlete with Adidas.”
Vitality, an insurance company, said in a statement on Wednesday that it was “very distressed” by the videos and was therefore immediately suspending its sponsorship of West Ham.
“At Vitality, we condemn animal cruelty and violence of any kind,” the company said.
Another West Ham sponsor, Experience Kissimmee, which promotes tourism in Osceola County, Florida, said on Twitter on Tuesday that he would assess his relationship with the club. He added that he was also disappointed to see Zouma in the starting line-up for West Ham’s game against Watford on Tuesday night.
Zouma, who joined West Ham in 2021 from Chelsea, was booed and mocked throughout the match by Watford fans, who shouted a rhyming chant which addressed the video.
West Ham won the game 1-0. Before the match, West Ham manager David Moyes defended his decision to play against Zouma. Moyes told reporters that although he was “a huge animal lover” and disappointed in Zouma, his job was to “try to win for West Ham and put the best team possible to give me that chance”.